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SEGMENT #3:  COVER-UP: Behind the Iran-Contra Affair   (19:34)

Ambassador Robert White (El Salvador 1976 – 1980):  “What we saw in the Iran-Contra Hearings, was the exposure of the beginnings of a National Security State which believes it has the right to override the Constitution of the United States in the name of security.”

Rep. Jack Brooks (Democrat - Texas.):  “I think that there was a substantial shadow government trying to run foreign affairs for the United States.” 

Marilyn Clements (Center for Constitutional Rights):  “In any other country it would have been called a coup.  And they seem to have gotten away with it.”

David MacMichael (former CIA Analyst):  “These are modern day pirates these guys.  They have escaped, essentially, the control of national governments, but they are available for use by national governments.  Sometimes they move under color of -- and defend themselves as advancing U.S. national interest in this.  But I think that is very secondary with these guys.  They’re out to make a buck.” 

Oliver North (Lieutenant Colonel):  “I did do it.  I am not, as I said in my statement, at all ashamed of any of the things that I did.  I was given a mission and I tried to carry it out.”

Elizabeth Montgomery, Narrator:  “The Iran-Contra Hearings, convened in May, 1987, by a special joint committee of the United States Congress to investigate the sale of U.S. weapons to Iran and the illegal diversion of money to the Contras.  Often, the official explanation seemed inadequate, and contradictory.” 

President Ronald Reagan:  “Our government has a firm policy not to capitulate to terrorist demands, that no concessions policy remains in force.  In spite of the widely speculative and false stories about arms for hostages and alleged ransom payments, we did not, repeat, did not, trade weapons or anything else for hostages.  Nor will we.”

Narrator:  “Despite Reagan’s denials, investigations soon revealed that arms had been traded for hostages held in the mid-East.”

President Ronald Reagan: “A few months ago, I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages.  My heart and my best intentions still tell me that’s true.  But the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.”

Narrator:  “Only days later, it was further revealed that the arms to Iran had been severely marked up.  Some of the profits had been illegally diverted to support the Contras, a guerrilla force organized by the CIA, fighting the Nicaraguan government.  The Reagan administration had a major scandal on its hands. The use of U.S. government money for supporting the overthrow of the Nicaraguan government, was specifically prohibited when Congress enacted the Bolland Amendment in 1984.  Even though it remained in effect until 1986, millions of dollars in profits from Iranian arms sales were secretly diverted to the Contras during this period through contacts through middlemen such as Manucher Gorbanifar.  Did these hearings uncover the full story behind the Contra-gate scandal? Or was it merely an attempt to keep the real truth hidden from public view?”

“Peter Dale Scott, Professor at the University of California at Berkeley has conducted extensive research on covert action and CIA activities.  The results are detailed in his book "The Iran-Contra Connection."

Professor Peter Dale Scott: “I think that the real issue was that both the administration and the majority of the people in the committees were frightened that the real scandals, the drug scandals for example, would really threaten any future conduct of covert operations on the scale that they had been handled in the past. And so they were trying very deliberately to limit the damage.  This was damage control.”

John Stockwell (former CIA covert specialist): “And so they were pulling the punches on all the major questions and issues of what really happened in this thing, what the CIA’s role was.  Any time they got into anything that was really sensitive about exactly that, exactly what the CIA’s role was and exactly what laws were broken and when, they went into secret session.”

Narrator:  “There was a lot of talk during the hearings about covert operations, national security, the necessity of secrecy in conducting foreign policy.  But some experts claim that covert action does not work in the interest of the U.S. National Security, nor does it create a more stable world.”           

Peter Dale Scott:  “To think of the democratic governments that have been overthrown in the last 30 years by military coups, it is almost like giving a capsule history of CIA covert operations in the last 30 years.  I mean there was the overthrow of Prime Minister Mosaddeq in Iran in 1953; there was the overthrow of Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954; there was the overthrow of the Brazilian government in 1964; there was the overthrow of the Ghana government in 1966.  A lot of the governments I just mentioned got into trouble with the international oil companies because they tried to assert their national prerogatives over their own resources. Time after time the CIA has come in on behalf of those multi-national companies.”

Jonathan Kwitny (Author – Journalist):  “You start a huge covert war that you intend is going to be secret.  It’s not secret from the Russians.  Certainly not secret from the Laotians who are getting shot at or the Angolans, and Nicaraguans or whoever it is.  It is covert from the American taxpayer and voter. And a lot of people make a lot of money off of it.  And it attracts criminals. And it has every single time.”

Narrator:  “Who are the names, the faces, behind these covert activities?  Some, like Oliver North, General Secord, Albert Hakim, are practically household names.  But Daniel Sheehan, Chief Legal Counsel for the Christic Institute, a public interest law firm, believes there are other influential players involved.”

Daniel Sheehan:  “There exists in operation now, a secret team of some two dozen men, former Central Intelligence Agency covert operatives, former U.S. Pentagon arms suppliers, who have joined together in a private enterprise outside of the control of the American government, either the Congress or the President, who are mounting their personal wars around the world.”      

Narrator:  “Whether there is actually an organized secret team, or simply a loose association of individuals, it is clear that there are a number of people who have been working actively behind the scenes in these covert operations.  Some of the names are Theodore Shackley, who was Assistant Deputy Director of Operations for the Central Intelligence Agency as of 1976 under George Bush, who was CIA Director at the time. Thomas Clines, who worked as a case officer under Shackley in Miami and in Laos. General John Singlaub, who worked with Shackley and Clines in Vietnam and was in charge of the CIA’s special operations over the border into Laos. General Richard Secord, who supervised the air operations into Laos and was later assigned to the Pentagon where he was put in charge of arm sales to Iran. Albert Hakim, who was a salesman for the U.S. weapons companies and a middle man in the Iran-Contra Affair.” 

Sheehan:  “These are the men who have been stirring the pot around the world to instigate these wars on the side of the Right-wing.  And that’s the group we are dealing with right here – who’re making war around the world for their own personal profit.”

Newscaster: “Cuban Revolutionary troops such as these have invaded Castro’s leftist island fortress. Reportedly rallied by a mysterious coded radio message: Alert! Alert!”

Narrator:  “It was after the failed invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in 1961, that Theodore Shackley,

as CIA station chief in Miami, and his assistant Thomas Clines began working with Raphael Quintaro and other right-winged Cubans to overthrow the Castro government.”

“In 1965, Shackley and Clines were transferred to Laos where Shackley became CIA Station Chief,  Clines, his assistant,  once again.   It was here, in Southeast Asia, that they teamed up with General Secord and Singlaub.”

Sheehan:  “And they there began running the secret war in Laos and Cambodia and Thailand.  Everybody in the United States basically thought the war was going on in Vietnam.  In fact, it was a major dirty war, a covert war that was fought primarily through assassinations of people that were suspected sympathizers of the Pathet Lao, or other people who were not terribly sympathetic to the Western powers.” 

Narrator:  “When Theodore Shackley was promoted to Director of the CIA Western Hemisphere Operations, he supervised the plans to overthrow the democratically elected President of Chile, Salvador Allende.  Allende, a Socialist, had promised to nationalize the copper mines and other industries and posed a threat to U.S. business interests in Chile.  After a bloody coup, Allende was replaced by a right-wing military dictator Augusto Pinochét, whose security forces brutally murdered and tortured thousands of political dissidents.  Shackley moved on, returning to Southeast Asia.”

Sheehan:  “By that time, the writing was on the wall.  The United States was going to be pushed out of Southeast Asia.  It was clear that the Viet Cong were going to prevail under Ho Chi Minh.  And so what these men began to do?  They began to pilfer hundreds of tons of ammunition and military equipment out of Vietnam.  They began to construct a covert war capacity that was unknown to the United States Congress, that didn’t require supervision by the President but would pursue the mission that they viewed as their ultimate mission. That is, to attempt to vanquish any people who didn’t support the United States foreign policy and who were Socialists, Communists, anywhere in the world.” 

Narrator: “As private businessmen and government operatives, Shackley, Clines, and Secord, along with Wilson, and middleman Albert Hakim, turned their attention to the Mid-East. They supplied arms to Mid-East governments while skimming off huge profits into hidden bank accounts around the world.  They secretly supplied weapons and military intelligence to Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza and helped the Shah of Iran eliminate his enemies.”

Sheehan:  “There is an early bond between Iran and Nicaragua. The bond is this secret team of men.  So throughout that period from October of 1977 to December of 1978, this secret team has two major operations: One, to support the Shah, the other to support the right-wing dictator Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua.   This was their world at that time.  The Shah collapses in December of ‘78, and Anastasio Somoza collapses in July of 1979.” 

Narrator:  “After the overthrow of Somoza, many of his former national guardsmen fled to Honduras where they were organized and trained by the CIA as a counter revolutionary force to fight against the new government in Nicaragua.” 

Sheehan:  “They began to create the Contras to try to do the identical thing that was done by the supporters of Bautista against the Cuban revolutionary government back in 1959.  Not an indigenous force inside Nicaragua that they had any support from any of the population in Nicaragua.  It was a total artifice that was created by these men.” 

Narrator:  “One of the original Contra political leaders was Edgar Chamorro. He joined the Contras in 1981.”

Edgar Chamorro:  “Yeah, I became involved with the Contras because the CIA using people from the White House, they invited me to be one of the Contra leaders.  I was told that this was just a war for a year.  That the United States wanted to put this pressure on Nicaragua, but then after a year or so, I found out that this was not the case.  We were being used to deceive the American people.  We were being used to lie to Congress.  The tactics used by the Contras were tactics of terrorizing civilians, making situations where civilians were getting killed.” 

John Stockwell:  “In Nicaragua, under President Reagan, they are in fact, giving the Contras written instructions in violence and destabilization.  The target is the people, the social and economic infrastructure is what you are hitting at.  It is not a bloodbath.  It is like you are going in a village and you kill a few people to make your point.  The purpose is to disseminate terror, traumatize the people. We’re not killing Sandinistas in the capital.  We’re not blowing up their homes and terrorizing them.  We are hitting at the people throughout the interior of the country.”

Narrator:  “In the early 1980s, when the CIA was working to establish a southern front in Costa Rica in the war against Nicaragua, a relationship was established with John Hull, an American rancher living in Costa Rica.  There is mounting evidence that the air strips on Hull’s ranch became not only a delivery point for illegal contra weapon shipments from the U.S., but were also used for transporting cocaine into the United States.” 

Stockwell:  “You have CIA bases in Costa Rica and Honduras.  You have airplanes flying back and forth continuously, landing at bases in the United States, where they don’t have to go through regular customs with the CIA escorting the people in and out and a certain laissez faire in the attitude at best at the customs if there is any customs representation there.  So it is a dream situation for drug smugglers.”

Narrator:  “But CIA involvement in the drug business did not start in Central America.  It dates back at least as far as the Vietnam war.” 

Professor Peter Dale Scott:  “The three men, Shackley and Singlaub and Secord, were all working together from different countries on the huge CIA secret war in Laos.  Our allies were the opium growing tribesmen and this meant that we continued in a very large way, not only to support, but really to augment a flow of heroin.  This had to be run with the knowledge and the approval of the people who were in charge of these air operations. And these air operations had been controlled in the ‘66 – ‘68 period by General Secord.”

Daniel Sheehan:  “The weapons trade and the narcotics trade in the world are two of the top five major money making transactions in the whole world.  These two major commodities in the world are hundreds of billions of dollars that go on.  So the amount of money we are talking about here is absolutely gargantuan!  In all of the intelligence community these guys have gone outside the governmental structures are tapping into hundreds of millions, which they need to run their operations.” 

Street interview:  “Do you think the Iran-Contra scandal will have an effect on future government operations?”

Reply:  “No. I think it will be more of the same.” 

Reply:  “I don’t think it is going to have much of an effect at all.  I just think they will be more careful next time.”

Reply: “They will continue to carry on covert operations.  I think this has been going on forever.”

Reply: “They make laws which are for us that they don’t seem to apply to themselves very often.”

Reply: “And who was going to inhibit them?  The gangsters that are running this country is going to inhibit somebody!?”

Sheehan: “What’s happening here my friends, is a major deception, a major deception which is in process as we stand and talk tonight.  A major deception in the same way that the Warren Commission was a major deception worked upon the American people.  The same way that the Watergate investigation was a major deception worked upon the American people.  Just like the bombing, the secret bombing of Cambodia was kept secret and was a deception worked upon the American people.   How long, how long, are we going to stand for being deceived in this manner?”

John Stockwell:  “Assassination, drug smuggling.  If they had pursued that line of questioning they would have soon gotten themselves into a position where they would have had to impeach someone.  They could track that right back into the White House.  They could put it at least right under the nose of Ronald Reagan.” 

Rep. Henry Gonzalez (Democrat – Texas): “This is the major constitutional crisis since the Civil War.  You have a president who is unaccountable and says that it’s his interpretation of what laws he’ll select to obey.  When you have that, you have a constitutional crisis.” 

Peter Dale Scott:  “Covert operations have never done this country any good.  They may be of momentary advantage to the people who are in power at a particular moment, but in terms of the interest of this country as a whole, they have proven disastrous.  There isn’t a single one in 30 years that you can point to and say, ‘well, that was one that we are now more secure, better off and happier as a result of.’ Every one of them has in its own way contributed to the deterioration of security in the world that we live in.  And so it is really time to stop them.” 

Rep. Jack Brooks (Democrat – Texas):  “Instead of operating within rules and law, we have been supplying lethal weapons to terrorists nations. Trading arms for hostages. Involving the U.S. government in military activities in direct contravention of the law.  Diverting public funds into private pockets and secret unofficial activities. Selling access to the President for thousands of dollars. Dispensing cash and foreign money orders out of a White House safe.  Accepting gifts and falsifying papers to cover it up.  Altering and shedding national security documents. Lying to the Congress.  Now I believe, that the American people understand, that democracy cannot survive that kind of abuse.”

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