Source – consortiumnews.com
– “…The “Secret Team” would start off during World War 2 in OSS. Lucien Conein, Howard Hunt, Mitch WerBell and Paul Helliwell would all serve with the OSS in China, deeply involved with the drug-dealing KMT guerrillas. Each would go onto play a fascinating and sinister role in America’s covert history”
Beyond the Iran-Contra Affair Part 1: The secret team – By Hugo Turner
On October 5, 1986, a plane carrying weapons to the Contras from El Salvador was shot down over Nicaragua setting off what became known as the Iran Contra Affair. Three of the plane’s passengers were killed: William Cooper, Wallace Sawyer and an “unidentified Latin American”, but Eugene Hasenfus survived and, disastrously for the Reagan Administration, he began to talk. In early November 1986 a Lebanese newspaper leaked the story of the Iran’s arms deals. On November 25, 1986, Attorney General Edwin Meese held a press conference revealing that money from arms sales to Iran had been diverted to fund the Contras. Thus this year will mark the 30th anniversary of the Iran Contra scandal, although I’m guessing it will be largely ignored.
Studying Iran/Contra opens a window onto the secret history of America and the world all of the things many mainstream historians try their best to ignore. Researchers at the time noted that Iran/Contra had its origins in the covert wars from the very beginnings of the “cold war”. Things that are still blocked out of the history books like the recruitment of fascists in Europe and Asia or the OSS and later CIA role in the global drug trade. It linked up with the Korean War, the Bay of Pigs, the Kennedy assassination, Vietnam, Watergate, the October surprise, the shooting of the pope, all what Peter Dale Scott calls “deep events”. Those are the more famous examples; it also linked up with now largely forgotten scandals like P2, SITBAM, Eatsco, Nugan Hand, the S&L failures, KoreaGate, Iraqgate, the Pizza connection and many more.
At the time the whole effort by Congress and the media aimed to contain the scandal by making the investigation as narrowly focused as possible. Thankfully others sought to pursue the case, seeking justice or at least the truth. The “scandal” had an earlier origin than the Hasenfus crash. During the 80’s American-backed fascist countries like Guatemala and El Salvador were waging a bloody war on their own people involving torture and mass murder on an industrial scale. Many were forced to flee for their lives and in the US a secret network of Americans, many of whom were connected to the Catholic church, helped them hide from US authorities. They discovered that they had been accused of smuggling terrorists into the country in an FBI disinformation campaign and they called on the Christic Institute, an interfaith law firm run by Daniel Sheehan that had taken on tough cases against the nuclear power industry and the KKK. He began his investigation and things exploded quite literally.
In Costa Rica the CIA had been funding ARDE, a Contra group led by a traitor to the Sandinista revolution, Eden Pastora “Comandante Zero.” While Pastora was happy to collect CIA money to wage war on his own country he refused to unite forces with the FDN in Honduras since they were made up of Somoza’s former national guard, who had killed and tortured tens of thousands, including some of Pastora’s relatives. The CIA decided Pastora had to go. During a press conference Pastora held at La Penca a bomb exploded, killing 8 people, 3 of them journalists, and injuring many others. Pastora got lucky and survived. The bomb would have killed far more people had it not been knocked over onto its side by a woman bringing Pastora his coffee. Instead of killing everyone in the room as intended, the blast was directed towards the ceiling, blowing the roof off instead.
One of the injured journalists, Tony Avirgan, and his wife Martha Honey began to investigate the bombing and began to uncover the Iran Contra network. They contacted Daniel Sheehan who had even more pieces of the puzzle and together their investigation began to reveal a massive network of drug dealers, spies, ex-spies, arms dealers, special forces vets and mercenaries. Sheehan labeled them the “Secret Team,” a term coined by Fletcher Prouty in his classic book of the same title. Sheehan’s Christic Institute attempted to bring the “Secret Team” to justice, but while their case was eventually dismissed the investigation would at least help to reveal the truth. After the official “Tower Committee” investigation was over, Jonathan Marshall, Peter Dale Scott, and Jane Hunter decided to write a book, The Iran-Contra Connection: Secret Teams and Covert Operations in the Reagan Era, to provide a much wider ranging and in depth understanding of Iran-Contra. Much of what I write here relies on their account of events
30 years later Iran Contra has continued to shape our world. “The War on Drugs” the “War on Terror” both have deep roots in the forces revealed during the Iran Contra scandal. Many officials involved in Iran Contra continue to be involved in what FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds dubs the GLADIO network. Indeed, Operation Condor, the Phoenix Program, and the GLADIO networks were deeply involved in Iran/Contra. Hence for those wishing to know how the world really works Iran/Contra provides a brief window into the shadowy world of spies, bankers, financiers, mercenaries, arms traffickers, fascists, terrorists, and drug dealers the empire of chaos employs to wage its endless dirty wars. This is why I doubt there will be much attention given to the 30th anniversary of Iran/Contra our rulers would much rather we forget. But for those seeking to unravel the “deep history” of the world, Iran/Contra is an excellent place to start. From Iran/Contra one can trace the threads backward to uncover the true history of World War 3, as I dub the Cold War. Moving forwards one can follow the threads to the wars on Panama, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, DRCongo, 911, Iraq II, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine. Indeed one of the key Iran/Contra organizations, the World Anti-Communist League or WACL, played a key but largely unknown role in the destruction of the Soviet Union which kicked off what I call World War 4 aka the War on Terror, War on Drugs, the Long War, etc.
But first my younger readers may be wondering what was the Iran/Contra affair. In reality the Iran Contra Scandal was a window onto the massive and unending covert-war the United States had been waging on the planet from its foundation. More specifically it was a window onto the final decade of World War 3. However, the media focused in particular on two countries: Iran and Nicaragua. Before I give some background I’ll just explain that the scandal revolved around the fact that arms were being sold to Iran which Americans, bitter over the hostage crisis and subjected to endless doses of anti-Iranian propaganda since, had assumed was a bitter enemy. Worse, the arms were being traded for hostages and the administration was always claiming that it didn’t make deals with terrorists and was fighting terror around the planet. (In reality they were funding it of course.) This aspect angered the Reagan supporters as well as his opponents.
What angered the Congress and the Democrats was that money from the arms shipments for which Iran was of course overcharged were secretly diverted to pay for Contras’ war on Nicaragua in defiance of the Boland Amendment they had passed to ban any aid to the Contras either direct or indirect. The Contras had become infamous for the brutal atrocities they carried out in Nicaragua which were very reminiscent of ISIS today. Like ISIS they preferred to slice up their victims. In fact their atrocities were standard tactics of CIA dirty wars from the Philippines to Indonesia, to Vietnam, to Argentina to El Salvador. They are still being carried out today in places like Syria, Libya, and Mexico. However, what inspired the Boland Amendment was first the discovery of an “assassination” manual, in reality merely a slightly altered manual from the Phoenix Program, a guide to carrying out a terror campaign, what the military call innocuously unconventional warfare or irregular warfare.
Second, the US had illegally mined Nicaragua’s harbors. In response to this, the Boland amendment was passed forbidding any US government aid to the Contras. The Reagan administration had openly defied Congress in continuing to aid the Contras. Of course, the scandal got even worse but the media were careful to suppress some aspects. Robert Parry, who some of you may know for his courageous work exposing the war in Ukraine, deserves mention here as the exception; he broke the story of the fact that the Contras were deeply involved in smuggling drugs before years before Gary Webb would later rediscover this story. Thus Reagan, who had launched a massive intensification of the drug war involving the infamous slogan “just say no”, had been publicly supporting known drug traffickers the Contras. This was just the tip of the iceberg and if one continued to follow the trail one discovered an international network of current and former CIA agents, fascists, arms, dealers, drug networks, terrorists, death squads, mercenaries, organized crime, political corruption, money laundering, corporate thefts, assassinations, false flag terror attacks, media disinformation campaigns, cults, foreign lobbies, and above all covert wars.
Now to provide some background on the two primary countries involved, Nicaragua and Iran. Both countries had undergone revolutions in the late 70’s during the Jimmy Carter years, ejecting brutal US-installed dictators. In 1912 the US had invaded and occupied Nicaragua. August Sandino had heroically resisted, leading a guerrilla army, and managed to avoid defeat despite the might of the US marines trying to capture and kill him. However, eventually treachery succeeded where the marines failed and he was assassinated after agreeing to a truce. The US trained a brutal national guard to keep the people in line so it could be run in the interest of US corporations. They installed Anastasio Somoza Garcia Sr. a brutal and corrupt dictator. Eventually Somoza Sr. was gunned down and he was was succeeded by his son Anastasio Somoza Debayle Jr. He continued to rule in the same ruthless fashion as his father, murdering anyone he saw as a threat. He loved to have the victims thrown into volcanoes. However, in the words of Fred Hampton, “You can kill the revolutionary but you can’t kill the revolution.”
Decades after his death Augusto Sandino inspired a new generation of revolutionaries: the Sandinistas who overthrew Somoza Jr. and attempted to build a Nicaragua that would serve the interests of its people instead of massacring and exploiting them. The Sandinistas perhaps naively abolished the death penalty and instead of executing the hated national guard they let them go. Instead of being grateful to be alive the National Guard began to plot their revenge. They were encouraged in this by the “Secret Team,” a shadowy group of former and current CIA and military men who had been involved in secret wars, drug networks, and arms deals for over thirty years but who had been purged during the Carter Administration in the wake of Vietnam, Watergate, Angola, the Church committee and other wars and scandals of the 70’s. (See my February 2015 CIA in Africa for more on this period.) I will return to the “secret team” soon. They had been helping Somoza improve his death squads based on their experience with the the phoenix program in Vietnam.
First I will also give a brief background on Iran. In 1953 the CIA had overthrown its president Mossadegh because he believed that Iran’s oil wealth should be used to benefit the people of Iran and not merely British oil companies. Mossadegh was trying to take Iran on an independent course so of course he was branded a communist despite the fact that he had engineered the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Iran. He was in reality a Nationalist. Mobs were paid to riot in the streets. False flag attacks on Shiite clergy were carried out and Communists were blamed to inflame the people. Generals were bribed, lies were spread, and the CIA managed with the help of MI6 to engineer a coup that installed the Shah as a corrupt and brutal dictator. The CIA (along with Mossad and MI6 among others) trained his secret police the Savak and thru torture and terror they managed to keep the hated Shah in power. Incidentally as Doug Valentine reveals in Strength of the Wolf his family were also big in the drug traffic like so many CIA allies.
Eventually he was succeeded by his son, who was overthrown in a massive revolution. The Shah fled, wandering in exile and seriously ill. Carter knew what might happen but foolishly gave in to his advisors’ (Kissinger and Brzezinski) pressure, who Peter Dale Scott explains were acting on behalf of David Rockefeller, who had launched both men’s careers in the first place. The Shah was admitted to the US, outraging the people of Iran, who stormed the US embassy in protest, taking the staff hostage. Carter had been warned this would happen but he was only president after all and was forced to act against his better judgement by his corporate masters. The Secret Team had been closely involved with the Shah as well as being involved in all sorts of shady arms deals throughout the Middle East. With the end of the Vietnam war the Shah had become a major buyer of weapons and Iran became an important center in the Secret Team’s network of drugs, arms, political bribery. Richard Secord, Theodore Shackley, and Ed Wilson were all deeply involved and it was in the 70’s that they began working with shady Middle Eastern arms merchants who would later become infamous because of Iran Contras Manucher Ghorbanifar and Adnan Khashoggi. Khashoggi is a fascinating figure who was used by the CIA to hand out bribes on behalf of Lockheed airlines. Later he was famous for being “The Richest Man in The World” and for his Yacht stocked with models and call girls. He continues to be involved in all sorts of shady deals today, according to Daniel Hopsicker.
These arms dealers were also Mossad agents and Israel was a major player in the arms for Iran trade. During the Reagan era, despite their reputation as pathological liars, both Khasoggi and Ghorbanifar would be used to funnel Israeli disinformation into the US government and media, creating panics over nonexistent terror threats from Libya that Reagan used to reverse the Carter-era CIA cutbacks and launch a massive expansion of the CIA and special forces. I was strongly reminded of the phony intel supplied by Ahmed Chalabi and spread by the Neo-Cons in the run up to the Iraq War and in fact the Neo-Cons were deeply involved in the Reagan Era and the Iran-Contra scandal, as was Israel, a fact seldom recognized at the time but obvious in hindsight. The Israeli role is central to the Iran Contra affair; they hoped to make the Iran/Iraq war as destructive as possible to both countries as an important stage in their plans to balkanize the Middle East. Plans the US and its allies have now also adopted, leading to the horrors of the wars on Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, Syria. If I don’t give Israel the focus it deserves it is only because I have dealt with the Israeli role in Iran Contra and the wars of the people of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua in an earlier article “Israel Supported [Death Squads in] Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala“, a sequel to “Israel [Supported] Apartheid South Africa“, both based on Iran-Contra Connection co-author Jane Hunter’s invaluable book Israeli Foreign Policy: South Africa and Central America.
Now to return to the Secret Team, actually their connections with the Contras had begun even before the fall of Somoza; training armies of drug-dealing exiles was something they had decades of experience in, starting during World War 2 when as the OSS they had worked with the KMT (Chinese “nationalists” army, actually corrupt western-backed fascists) in China’s Yunan province. When Mao finally succeeded in liberating China these Chinese exiles had moved their drug networks to Burma and Thailand with help from the future secret team; later they moved to Laos. In Laos the secret team built the opium-growing Hmong tribesmen into a “secret army” to use in their dirty war on the Pathet Lao and the NLF (the VC, as Americans called them), a role they had earlier played for the French. They were one of many proxies recruited as death squads and commandos for the covert war the CIA was waging all over Asia.
Meanwhile profits from this huge heroin trade were used to fund right wing politicians via the infamous China lobby who launched Joseph McCarthy’s career. Granted CIA protection this drug-funded right wing lobby would also launch the careers of Richard Nixon and then Ronald Reagan. When Castro overthrew Batista, liberating his country from more then a century of US domination, his drug-dealing underlings fled to Miami where the secret team again organized them into a drug-dealing army of exiles. The Cubans would wage covert war on Cuba but would also be recruited into the secret team fighting the CIA’s secret wars in Indonesia, the Congo, Laos and Vietnam among other wars.
Thus it should come as no surprise that with the Nicaraguan revolution the secret team would adopt the same tactics yet again and history would repeat itself. Yet again the Nicaraguan exiles, mostly veterans of Somoza’s murderous national guard, were organized into a drug-dealing exile army. Actually the Cuban Exiles had connections to Central America dating back at least to the sixties when Central America became the base where they trained and launched terror attacks on Cuba from. Nicaragua and Guatemala were both major sites for this covert war on Cuba of which the Bay of Pigs was merely the most well known episode. I should mention that all this history was well known at the time of the Iran/Contra affair. Alfred McCoy had explained the South East Asian connection in his classic The Politics of Heroin in South East Asia. The Cuban Exiles had been the target of the largest drug bust in US history: Operation Eagle. Yet the media still pretended it was impossible that the US could be involved in funding a drug-dealing exile army. And even after Robert Parry had exposed the Contra connection in the 80’s they still pretended Gary Webb was crazy when he rediscovered the story in the 90’s. Just in case you had any doubts that the media exists to suppress the truth, not report it.
The Secret Team had one problem, President Carter, but they already had a solution: future president Reagan. Reagan has of course been whitewashed by history; in reality he was a long time ally of the extreme right and even a public supporter of outright fascists. Frankly he was a bit of a madman but he was also a fool so he was a useful front man for more dangerous interests. Of course he knew what was going on during Iran/Contra despite his denials but his job was to sell the dirty war not plan it. WACL, the infamous alliance of death squads, drug dealers and open fascists, was one of his major backers. His campaign manager Michael Deaver, who managed his rise from 1974 to 1980, was a paid lobbyist for key WACL countries Taiwan, Argentina, Guatemala. They funneled millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to Reagan.
In contrast to Reagan, George H. W. Bush was a long time CIA agent, although officially his only connection with the agency was when he served a year as CIA director. Circumstantial evidence (most famously the names of the boats used during the Bay of Pigs) as well as his whole role as vice president point to a veteran deep state operative, not a novice. Although his CIA role has long been suspected, Russ Baker has managed to document his lifelong intelligence connections in his book Family of Secrets. The “Secret Team” managed Bush 1’s presidential campaign and when he was forced into the position of Reagan’s VP they helped engineer Reagan’s victory. Reagan’s campaign manager William Casey was himself a veteran of the OSS (where he helped recruit Nazis) and would be appointed to head the CIA after Reagan was elected.
As for George H.W. Bush, not only did he supervise the whole Iran/Contra affair thru Phoenix Program vet Donald Gregg. He also had himself appointed head of anti-drug operations in Florida, an odd role for a vice president and absolutely comedic given this era saw an explosion in the drug trade and he was connected to the Cuban exiles, the Colombian cartels, Manuel Noriega, and of course the Contras. His suspicious connections to drug networks are so notorious I’ll merely add the tale of Barry Seal, fmr CIA pilot and infamous drug smuggler gunned down by a death squad inside the US with George Bush’s phone number in his wallet after he was heard threatening to expose the the Contra role in drug trafficking. Seal’s life was full of strange connections (like to Lee Harvey Oswald) and it was one of his former planes that Hasenfus was shot down in, triggering the scandal. He was only one of many killed to keep the crimes of Bush and his allies during Iran Contra covered up.
Bush 1 is doubtless the most well known of the Secret Team. Many hoped Iran/Contra would destroy his career but instead he was elected president. He went on to invade Panama, bomb Iraq, launch the covert wars on Rwanda, and Yugoslavia and then his son was elected thanks to shady tricks in Florida (the base for the Cuban exiles and the Contra resupply effort and the center from which the CIA and military coordinate their endless war on Latin America). The rest is history, although Bush II was a lot more like Reagan than like his dad. No sooner had people stopped complaining about the shady election than a shadowy CIA-backed army of drug-dealing exiles aka “Al Qaeda” struck and the tragicomedy of the war on terror launched into high gear.
As Peter Dale Scott notes, a shadowy network of Iran/Contra vets then put into effect plans that had been updated during the Iran Contra era for mass surveillance and mass arrests. (America has had contingency plans for mass arrests since at least World War 2 when they locked up masses of Japanese, and long before that of course the Indigenes had been rounded up and imprisoned as well, not to mention slavery.) In the now forgotten aftermath of 9/11 thousands were rounded up without charges, some beaten and tortured. (See Peter Dale Scott’s book The American Deep State.) Mass surveillance, assassination, torture became normalized. But of course all these things were also going on in the Iran/Contra era and long before that. One little-studied aspect of the Iran Contra affair was Oliver North’s role as head of counter-terrorism for the NSC he carried out a secret assassination program and launched a number of terrorist attacks, most infamously a bombing in Beirut that aimed to kill then Hezbollah Leader Sheikh Fadlallah but instead killed 92 innocent civilians and injured 259 – one of many terror attacks that Oliver North was involved in.
But let’s return to the election of Reagan/Bush. The secret team helped get them into office. John Singlaub went down to Central America on behalf of the American Security Council and WACL to meet with the Contras and the brutal governments of Guatemala and El Salvador, who hated Carter. Right wing oligarchs all over Latin America began raising illegal donations for the Reagan campaign. Even more important was the October surprise. The Secret Team used their connections in Iran to secretly negotiate a deal whereby they agreed not to release the hostages until after Reagan was elected. The fate of the hostages was the media’s obsession at that time. Carter’s inability to free them made him look weak. They blamed Carter for his attempts to rein in some of the right wing dictators the US was supporting. Carter tried to use the state department to force the dictators to cut back on the murder and torture by which they maintained their control. Carter deserves some credit for these efforts as do figures like Robert White who actually did try to reform the empire. The fall of both Somoza and the Shah were in part caused by these efforts at reform. Somoza had his military aid finally cut off, while in Iran Carter ordered the CIA to stop bribing the mullahs which meant they joined and eventually seized control of the Iranian revolution. The Secret Team blamed Carter for the loss of Iran and Nicaragua, where they had been selling arms, training death squads and other profitable ventures. Of course it should also be remembered that Carter okayed Brzezinski’s plan for the covert war on Afghanistan that provoked the Soviet intervention there, so Carter himself set in motion a major component of the Iran-Contra connection, less you get the Idea that he was blameless.
In Iran, Carter launched a hostage rescue attempt, ironically choosing secret team member Richard Secord to plan the operation. We can be forgiven for the baseless suspicion that Secord may have had something to do with its complete failure. If that wasn’t bad enough veteran CIA operative Miles Copeland intentionally had the entire rescue plan published a couple days before the super-secret operation was launched, which as noted proved a failure. The Reagan campaign’s secret deal to prevent an “October Surprise”, meaning the release of the hostages just in time for the election, was a complete success. It mirrored the Nixon campaign’s sabotage of Lyndon Johnson’s peace deal with North Vietnam, which lead to 7 more years of war. Robert Parry has also done a great deal of work on the October surprise. But the original story was revealed by an outraged member of the Reagan campaign: Barbara Honegger. Thanks to these schemes and other intrigues (Bush had a bunch of angry Carter-hating CIA agents working on his campaign spying on Carter and playing other dirty tricks like stealing his plans for the debate), Reagan became president and the stage was set for the Iran/Contra affair.
Well, except that is only the narrow version of events. In reality the network was far more international and they were involved in what they and I call World War 3. It was in 1980 that the now forgotten Santa Fe Statement was issued declaring that World War 3 was already underway and was being fought in Central America. Of course for me World War 3 began before World War 2 even ended; the US did not wait for World War 2 to end before it began arming the fascists who were still officially the enemy to kill the communists who were officially allies. In Greece, in China, in Italy, in North Africa, Korea, Vietnam, the UK, the US relaunched their dirty war on the world. In the case of General MacArthur, he was himself the face of fascism. His General Staff would go on to found every right wing and fascist movement in the US in alliance with the “China Lobby”.
Some of the older generation of the “Secret Team” would start off during World War 2 in OSS. Lucien Conein, Howard Hunt, Mitch WerBell and Paul Helliwell would all serve with the OSS in China, deeply involved with the drug-dealing KMT guerrillas. Each would go onto play a fascinating and sinister role in America’s covert history. Helliwell would play an infamous role in setting up the drug trade involved with the infamous Sea Supply Inc and Meyer Lansky. Hunt, Conein and Werbell would found the Asian and Latin American branches of WACL, APACL (Asian Peoples Anti-Communist League) and CAL, in 1954. Another infamous secret team member whose bio is inextricably linked to America’s deep history is Theodore Shackley “The Blond Ghost”. He was in charge of the CIA’s Miami station in charge of launching the Cuban exiles (many were members of Santos Traficante’s mob back in Cuba before being trained by the CIA and special forces in the art of terror and assassination). From there he moved to Laos, where he managed the secret army drug dealing of Meo tribesmen in the secret war there being fought despite America’s promise to withdraw its advisers.
Thailand and Laos became the center of the global heroin traffic thanks to CIA’s infamous Air America, originally Civil Air Transport. Other veterans of the secret war in Laos included Richard Secord, Thomas Clines, John Singlaub and Oliver North, among many others. To supply the Contras and to smuggle back drugs they would use the same exact tactics, using a “former” CIA airline named Southern Air Transport. Secord would later set up an airline to fly Al Qaeda fighters and heroin out of Afghanistan and into Azerbaijan en route to fight in Yugoslavia during the 90’s, as Peter Dale Scott reveals in his American War Machine. After the US’s humiliating defeat in Vietnam the Secret Team set up shop in Australia, where the infamous Nugan Hand Bank was used to launder the massive profits from the global heroin trade, finance arms deals and secret wars across the third world and to overthrow Australia’s Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in a “soft coup”. They were at the same time highly active in Iran selling arms to the Shah. And they were also advising Somoza in his attempt to stop the revolution. Central to events in Australia were more members of the Secret Team: Ed Wilson and Frank Terpil, who would end up fugitives because of their shady arms deals involving Libya and Syria.
I can only introduce the secret team and tell you some of the highlights, but take my advice and “follow these names” and you will begin to discover a host of forgotten scandals murders, coups, wars, and covert operations. They played a major part in the Phoenix Program, Operation Condor, and Operation Gladio. For example, Duane “Dewey” Clarridge, a Gladio veteran, would help oversee Condor’s expansion into Central America as well as keeping the Contras well supplied. Michael Ledeen, another CIA GLADIO veteran, would spread lies and disinformation on behalf of both the Reagan administration and the Israelis (he was a major Neo-Con) against the Sandinistas, the Soviets, the Arab world and whoever else was targeted. The New York Times and other media dutifully helped him spread these lies. They played a role in the JFK Assassination, Watergate, Iran Contra and 911. Sibel Edmonds and Peter Dale Scott both trace the origins of 9/11 to many of the players involved in the Iran Contra Scandal.
While I’m giving out names, it is figures that were less well known at the time of the scandal that have gone on to play a very sinister role in the global drug trade, covert wars, and the spread of terrorist death squads. Richard Armitage was a bagman for the secret team and would go on to play an important role as part of the Gladio Network. John Negroponte, James Steel, Robert Ford, who would later unleash the death squads in Iraq and Syria, were busy during the 80’s unleashing death squads in Central America. Cheney and Rumsfeld were busy planning for Martial Law in the event of an emergency during this period, plans that became the Patriot aAct and the Department of Homeland Security. A good reason why the Iran Contra Era must be constantly revisited Is that just as in the 80’s Iran Contra revealed 30 years of secret wars and coups from China, Guatemala, Iran, Cuba, Vietnam, Chile, Argentina, Laos, El Salvador to Nicaragua; so today one can trace the role of people involved in Iran Contra thru the covert wars and coups from Uganda to Panama to Rwanda, Iraq, Yugoslavia, DRCongo, Libya, Syria, Ukraine.
In Ukraine for example WACL played a very important role in keeping Ukrainian fascism alive throughout the Cold War so that with the destruction of the USSR they could return and spread their fascist poison. In fact WACL played the same role throughout Eastern Europe and were vital both in the break-up of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union as well as in forming the right wing governments that replaced them. A topic I will return to in a future article. As for Rwanda and DRCongo David Kimche, Mossad veteran and a central figure in Iran/Contra, went on to become one of Paul Kagame’s main advisors as he seized power in Rwanda in a bloody civil war that left 800,000 dead then went on to invade Zaire (renamed Democratic Republic of Congo after Mubutu was overthrown), leading to over ten million dead in a war that continues to this day and is threatening to expand yet again into Burundi.
Even with all this complex web of deep history I have only begun to explore the Iran Contra affair. My next article will focus on Iran/Contra as a window onto the many covert wars of the 1980’s or the final decade of what I call World War 3. As I was writing this, it began to grow a bit out of control and I decided it was best to break it into parts. Iran Contra is rather like the JFK assassination or 9/11; one could spend ones whole lifetime exploring it. Especially when one has as one’s guide Peter Dale Scott, my Virgil on my tour of of the inferno that is America’s deep history. Thus having introduced some of the cast of characters and explained the basics of the scandal I’m forced to bring things to a rather abrupt end.
To be continued
My main source was The Iran-Contra Connection: Secret Teams and Covert Operations in the Reagan Era by Jonathan Marshall, Peter Dale Scott and Jane Hunter. However, after re-reading this book I couldn’t resist re-reading the epic American War Machine: Deep Politics, The CIA Global Drug Connection and the Road to Afghanistan by Peter Dale Scott, which I highly recommend to anyone wishing to understand the world’s “Deep History”.
Iran Contra however intersects with many classic books on the “war on drugs” as well as the histories of America’s covert wars. Thus in this first part I’ll provide a list of recommended reading on the war on drugs and in the my next article one on covert warfare.
First, also by Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall, there is Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America
also Peter Dale Scott’s Drugs Oil and War: The United States in Afghanistan, Colombia and Indochina.
Douglas Valentine wrote the definitive insider account of the war on drugs in his books Strength of the Wolf and Strength of the Pack. I recommend you do a quick internet search to find plenty of great interviews and articles with him, many Iran-Contra related.
Gary Webb wasn’t the first to discover the Iran/Contra connection, but his Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contra’s and The Crack Cocaine Explosion is still a classic for its in-depth account of how the Contra-cocaine connection led to the crack cocaine explosion by fueling the rise of freeway Rick Ross. It also brings home the fact that only a tiny fraction of the profits were actually sent to the Contras; most went to make their drug-dealing sponsors filthy rich. The movie Kill The Messenger unfortunately didn’t do justice to the depth of the story he uncovered, but is also worth checking out.
Powderburns: Cocaine, Contras & the Drug War by Celerino Castillo III and Dave Harmon tells the story of “Cele” Castillo, a DEA agent who was fired for attempting to blow the whistle on the Contra drug connection and the dirty war in Latin America.
For more on the death of Barry Seal there is Barry and the Boys: The CIA, the Mob and America’s Secret History by fearless investigative journalist Daniel Hopsicker. Check out his Mad Cow News; he has also done great work on 9/11 as well as the drug-corporate connection.
There are a bunch of great resources online on the Iran/Contra affair: Cover-up Behind the Iran Contra affair is a great documentary. Daniel Sheehan explains the Iran Contra affair in this speech from the 80’s.
Dave Emory is the World’s top Anti-Fascist researcher his radio show is archived free online and his anti-Fascist Archive was invaluable in researching the Iran Contra affair and the many related scandals. He was following events long before the scandal ever broke with his then co-host Nip Tuck. His site is spitfirelist.com. 3 parts of the Anti-Fascist Archive are especially relevant to Iran Contra, 1st the Italy/Iran Contra connection in who shot the pope, the history of the CIA drug connection, and the Iran Contra affair itself. Also check out the first part of a long series of interviews he did with Russ Baker on the Bush family.
Eclipse comics attempted to expose the Iran Contra affair in creative ways; they produced a set of surprisingly educational trading cards, and a Trading Card Series on America’s Friendly Dictators, and a 2-part comic book “Brought to Light” – one part records the events surrounding the La Penca bombing, the other is a 30-year history of the Secret Team.
Consortium News Archive on the Contras and Drugs
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