4/12/2005

How the Reagan-Bush campaign sabotaged President Carter's Iran hostage talks in 1980

"We fucked Carter's October Surprise" says spook regarding the hostage negotiations... -- law

An intimidating array of individuals and forces wanted President Carter ousted from the White House in 1980. Some were driven by ambition; others by money; and still others by revenge. Together, they were over-powering.

Newly revealed documents, meant to stay hidden from the public, now show the interlocking relationships that operated behind the facade of American democracy: a chilling chapter of the October Surprise X-Files

* October Surprise X-Files (Part 4): The Money Trail

By Robert Parry

WASHINGTON -- It was the start of winter, December 21, 1992, but the mild Washington weather was still like fall. In a secure conference room, a senior CIA Middle East specialist sat down to give a classified deposition to a special House task force investigating the October Surprise controversy.

The task force had already drafted its report, which firmly rejected allegations that the Reagan-Bush campaign sabotaged President Carter's Iran hostage talks in 1980. The distinguished gray-haired CIA man, Charles G. Cogan, had been called to tie down a loose end or two.

But Cogan started his testimony with a startling recollection. He remembered an off-hand remark that he had heard in 1981, during a meeting between then-CIA director William J. Casey and a prominent Republican, Joseph V. Reed. Cogan said he was finishing a meeting with Casey in the director's seventh floor office at CIA's campus-like headquarters in Langley, Va., when Reed arrived.

Knowing Reed, a longtime top aide to Chase Manhattan's David Rockefeller, Cogan lingered at the door. Cogan said he had a 'definite memory' of a comment Reed made about disrupting President Carter's 'October Surprise' of a pre-election release of 52 American hostage held in Iran. But Cogan said he could not recall the precise verb that Reed had used.

'Joseph Reed said, 'we' and then the verb [and then] something about Carter's October Surprise,' Cogan testified. 'The implication was we did something about Carter's October Surprise, but I don't have the exact wording.' (Another congressional investigator, who discussed the recollection with Cogan in a less formal setting, concluded that the verb apparently was the past tense of an expletive related to sex.)

According to a 1984 CIA memo given to the task force, Casey recruited his old World War II spy chum John Shaheen and Iranian banker Cyrus Hashemi in 1979 to sell off property in New York City belonging to the shah's Pahlavi Foundation. At that time, the radical Islamic government in Teheran was claiming that property as its own and the shah's family was desperate for the cash.

The early Casey-Shaheen-Hashemi partnership on this Iranian business deal was important, because in 1980 Hashemi became one of President Carter's principal intermediaries on the hostage crisis and Casey was in charge of Ronald Reagan's campaign. The Casey-Shaheen-Hashemi connection made the October Surprise allegations far more credible.

Though Cyrus Hashemi died in 1986, his older brother, Jamshid, testified under oath before the task force that Cyrus had arranged July 1980 meetings in Madrid where Casey discussed the hostages with a radical Iranian mullah, Mehdi Karrubi. Jamshid's testimony was at the heart of the October Surprise charges that Casey derailed President Carter's hostage talks.

But the House task force cast aside the CIA memo and concluded that there was "no evidence" that Casey had met Cyrus Hashemi before the 1980 election in November. In the public report, the task force briefly mentioned the CIA memo, but deleted the identity of the foundation. The word "Pahlavi" was excised, thus obscuring the significance of the information.

The Consortium

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