Thursday, December 26, 2013
Iran-Contra: Lessons of History Ignored
December 24 marks the anniversary of an important historical event. On this day in 1992, then president George H.W. Bush gave pardons to six people who had been convicted in the Iran-Contra scandal. Read the whole NY Times article from that day:
The significance of this event has faded over the years, which is a shame because it is immensely relevant to today. According to Wikipedia, "In the end, fourteen administration officials were indicted, including then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. Eleven convictions resulted, some of which were vacated on appeal. The rest of those indicted or convicted were all pardoned in the final days of the presidency of George H. W. Bush, who had been vice-president at the time of the affair."
Understanding the whole Iran-Contra affair is an essential step in grasping the true meaning, the what, the how and the why, of 9/11 and its aftermath. Iran-Contra is a unique historical moment in which you get a glimpse of the unaccountable secret powers that are really running the show, and what their intentions really are. From Iran-Contra you can follow the threads back to the 1960's and 70's, when the major players started assuming positions of power, and forward to the post-9/11 world, in which their desire for vast powers, wielded in secret with no accountability, was fulfilled beyond their wildest dreams.
Case in point : John Poindexter, Reagan's national security advisor.
According to the New York Times, "President Reagan's national security adviser from December 1985 to November 1986 was convicted on April 7, 1990, on five counts involving charges that he obstructed, conspired to obstruct and made false statements to Congress. He was sentenced June 11, 1990 to six months in prison. A Federal appeals panel threw out the convictions on Nov. 15, 1991, on the ground that Mr. Poindexter's testimony to Congress under immunity was improperly used against him."
So, Poindexter was convicted for his part in the coverup of the Iran-Contra affair, but managed to avoid serving any jail time. After eleven years of lying low, Poindexter re-surfaced in the wake of 9/11. In spite of being proven to be part of a group of power hungry liars and thieves who put their own interests ahead of the government and the American people, here he was in 2002, working for the Department of Defense. He was named to head the Information Awareness Office, from which he developed the concept of "total information awareness." According to Wikipedia, "This aimed to counter asymmetric threats (most notably, terrorist threats) by achieving total information awareness and thus aiding preemption; national security warning; and, national security decision making."
His work, when exposed, generated so much controversy and outrage that his office was shut down within a year. But it should be quite evident today that the idea of TIA did not go away. In fact "total information awareness" simply transitioned into the paradigm of "just collect it all" that we now know has became the primary method of operation for the NSA, and most likely other intelligence agencies, and even the police.
This article, from Foreign Policy magazine, is a remarkably clear expose on the connection.
This commentary from Glenn Greenwald discusses how Gen. Keith Alexander, who was picked to head the NSA in 2005, pushed hard for the "collect it all" paradigm.
In fact it seems clear that Alexander was placed in his position at NSA with a mandate to implement a program that had already been developed by Poindexter, three years before. Considering Alexander's history in intelligence, it should comes as no surprise that the torch would be passed to him.
And that is just pulling on one thread. I urge you to study Iran-Contra for yourself and start to see the many threads, or should we say tentacles, that extend from it. Wikipedia is a decent place to get started.
Bill Moyers' excellent documentary, "Secret Government: The Constitution in Crisis," does an admirable job of explaining the story.
Another documentary, "Coverup: Behind The Iran-Contra Affair," goes a good bit further in exploring what the Iran-Contra hearings did not resolve: the extent to which our government's activities are controlled by a secret cabal, whose motives are completely contrary to what they publicly claim.
Want to go further? Count on James Corbett of www.corbettreport.com to take you deep into the rabbit hole. His 2009 podcast, "Know Your History: Iran-Contra," is essential listening for anyone wanting to really look for deeper meaning behind the whole affair.
I cannot emphasis this enough: start with Iran-Contra, follow its threads, and you will start to see a much clearer picture of what is really going on in American government today.
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