Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Drugs in America: Conspiracy to Complicity

Drugs in America: Conspiracy to Complicity

Part 1 Iran Contra Scandal and the CIA

To hold a people in oppression you have to convince them first that they are supposed to be oppressed.” John Henrik Clarke

Every since the Viet Nam war created such large spread protest there has been an unspoken agreement in Washington that perception had to be managed for Americans and that it is more important than having an informed constituency. If future wars and policies were going to be supported by the American people, the government was going to have to invest in propaganda on an Orwellian level.

In the 1980's, during his presidency, Ronald Reagan made it his business to eliminate Communism around the world. This became known as the Reagan Doctrine. One of his pet projects was the Contras in Nicaragua. They were fighting against the Sandinistas who were backed by the Cuban government. Because of his policies, the CIA trained and otherwise helped rebels fighting communists all over the world.

"Stay self-funded as long as possible."
Garrett Camp, founder Expa, Uber, and StumbleUpon

In order to aid these insurgencies, the CIA needed funding. But the Democratic Party did not support the policy. The Democrats took the majority of the congressional seats in the November 1982 election. Shortly thereafter, they passed the Boland Amendment that restricted funding for the CIA and the Department of Defense. And this meant their aid to the Contras as well. In 1984 the Boland Amendment(3) was made even more restrictive. The CIA was going to have to come up with funding from somewhere else. In spite of this, President Reagan told his National Security Advisor, Robert McFarlane, to do whatever he had to in order to help the Contras.

The following year in 1985, Iran was at war with Iraq. The Iranians needed weapons and they secretly asked to buy them from the United States. But there was an embargo against selling weapons to them. Reagan's National Security Advisor, McFarlane believed that selling them weapons would help US relations and influence in the Middle East. To complicate things further, Iranian terrorists were holding 7 American hostages in Lebanon and Reagan had been unable to secure their release. He wasn't inclined to negotiate with terrorists. Shipping weapons to Iran would cause him to break his campaign promise not to deal with terrorists as well as violating the embargo.

President Reagan's Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger and George Shultz, his Secretary of State were both against making a weapons deal with Iran. But McFarland and then CIA director William Casey were all for it and the President agreed. So they went forward with the plan. By the time a halt was put to this secret deal, over 1500 missiles would be sent to the Iranians. Three of the hostages were released but then three more were taken.

In November of 1986, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Shiraa published a story exposing the secret deal. (2) And Reagan responded by denying that there was a deal. He then retracted his statement but still insisted it hadn't been an arms for hostages agreement. (4) He took a huge public relations hit because very few Americans believed he was being completely honest.

An investigation was started into the deal by Attorney General Edwin Meese and he found out that the Iranians had paid $30 million dollars for the weapons but only $12 million of it ended up in the treasury. (5)

This is when Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North who was on the National Security Council, came into the picture. He said he had been using this missing money to help the Contras and that the NSA Advisor Admiral John Poindexter was fully aware of it and that he believed the President supported it too.

As a result, Oliver North was fired and Admiral Poindexter resigned. But the press wasn't done with the whole affair, they demanded to know if the President knew about the illegal activities or not. If he didn't how did he allow something this big to happen?

President Reagan appointed the Tower Commission(6) to look into the matter. They found that he had allowed conditions to exist in the White House that made it possible. But there was no evidence that he knew that the money was being diverted to the Contras.

People were still not convinced. Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh(7) continues to investigate the scandal for eight years. During that time fourteen people were charged with covering things up. Oliver North was convicted, but his conviction was eventually overturned. President George Bush, Sr. was elected and he issued six pardons, one of which was McFarlane. Weinberger hadn't even stood trial yet when Bush pardoned him. (8)

Despite all of this Ronald Reagan left office with the highest approval rating of any president since Franklin Roosevelt.

Don't find customers for your product, find products for your customers. Seth Godin

But what was the CIA's role in all of this? The former Director of the Covert Action Staff at the CIA, who was also a specialist in propaganda and disinformation helped set up a system of inter-agency committees, among these a working group on Central American Public Diplomacy. The NSC staff had Otto Reich appointed as Director of the Office of Public Diplomacy. This office reported directly to the NSC. The Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean or S/LPD hired public affairs specialists to help carry out Reagan's policy in Latin America. The S/LPD(9) operated out of the State Department. These two men were Richard R. Miller and Francis D. Gomez.

With the support of the State Department and the White House, they were in charge of fundraising and lobbying. They also managed Central American politicians, and leaders of the Nicaraguan opposition i.e. the Contras as well as people who had been victims of the Sandanistas. They helped them meet with the press, members of Congress and others who could help support Reagan's policies so that they could tell their stories and gain support for these policies as well as funding. Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North told them to help in transferring the funds they raised to offshore accounts and Swiss bank accounts. They were the major link between the White House, the State Department and these private groups who all shared the common purpose of influencing Congress, the media and thereby the public opinion.

When Donald Greg who was Chief of the Intelligence Directorate left to join Vice President George Bush, Sr.'s staff, he made the recommendation for who his successor should be. This successor proposed and received approval for a plan to set up a public diplomacy program as part of the responsibilities of his job.

Documents were later obtained by the Select Committees show that the Director of the Intelligence Staff of the NSC established an inter-governmental network with the aim of promoting and managing public diplomacy in order to gain support for the Reagan Administration Policies. (1)

George Shultz the Secretary of State tried to prevent the creation of the S/LPD within the State Department. He preferred a more open and direct manner of doing things. He wrote a memorandum in May of 1983 to President Reagan and asked that they use more "simple and straight-forward management procedures." He asked that he be solely responsible for carrying out Reagan's policies through the State Department. But Reagan believed that it would require the cooperation of multiple departments to carry out his Central American policy. And that his Cabinet officers needed to work together. In a memo he sent to Shultz there was a chart with the NSC between the President and the State Department. (1)

After the S/LPD was established, Walter Raymond, Jr. was appointed as Special Assistant to the President and Director of International Communications at the NSC. And the newly created S/LPD reported directly to him and his working group on Central American Public Diplomacy at the NSC. Within this working group were representatives from the USIA, the CIA and the Department of Defense. He also, was in charge of hiring staff from other departments because they were on a limited budget because the Department of State wouldn't give them more money or resources.

Some of the personnel from these other departments were intelligence specialists from the Air Force and the Army. These included personnel from the Psychological Operation Group at Fort Bragg, NC. They even recruited Bill Greener, the public affairs head at Philip Morris to help them treat the Central American agenda like a product that needed to be marketed. (10)

In 1986 a man named Pete Daily became Counselor to the Director of the Central Intelligence. Because he was a CIA employee he was not legally allowed to take part in any activity that had the purpose of influencing US public opinion or policies. The CIA is supposed to only work outside the country. He would also have been prohibited from doing anything to raise funds for the Nicaraguan Resistance.

But according to memos between Raymond and Poindexter, he was advising on the matter. He told Raymond that they needed to stop using the word Contras and start using the term Democrats in order to get across the idea that they were helping to establish a democratic government in Nicaragua. And that doing so was important to national security. And he suggested that they should start running things like a political campaign. He also recommended recruiting people like Rollins, Nofziger, and co. who worked as campaign advisors. (1)

Another memo from Raymond to Poindexter said:

"There have been several meetings following up on the effort to get a major, bipartisan group formed to help promote an 'educational' program in the US which would help provide understanding (and support)for our Centam policy, particularly vis-a-vis Nicaragua.

"Although Pete Dailey, Bill Casey and Clif White have all been involved in general discussion of what needs to be done, we are going to have to be sure that Pete and Bill are not involved. Pete is getting very nervous on this item...

"The problem with all of this is that to make it work it really has to be one step removed from our office and, as a result, we have to rely on others to get the job done. will keep you posted."

"Tell a story. Make it true. Make it compelling. And make it relevant." ― Rand Fishkin

This all goes to show that people within the NSC and the CIA were making a very concerted effort to circumvent the laws and use whatever resources they could to alter public opinion. In other words to propagandize us while keeping their activity secret from Congress and the American people. This is a violation of the law.

Between 1983 and 1986, the NSC and the William Casey, National Security Advisors, Bill Clark, Bud McFarlane, and John Poindexter, and Oliver North created an operation that was hidden from Congress and the public. Their purpose was to raise money for weapons for the Contras. They lobbied Congress and conducted a media campaign to alter public opinion by using the press.

They used private foundations and organizations to raise money. For instance, the National Endowment for the Preservation of Liberty raised $10,000,000 for the Contras. Half of it came from Barbara Newington and Ellen Garwood. (11) Both of them were elderly widows. They were talked into their sizeable donations by Oliver North who convinced them of the Contra's urgent need for money. (12)

Two million dollars was spent on public relations, political advertising, and lobbying. These underhanded methods of changing public opinion eventually resulted in some increase in aid from Congress. But when it came out that arms had been sold to the Iranians, it brought a halt to the operation.

When the whole operation was exposed, Channell and Miller pled guilty to tax charges because they had used the tax-exempt organization to redirect money to the Contras. And part of it was giving donors tax exemptions. They pled guilty to subverting and corrupting the lawful purpose of NEPL by using NEPL to solicit contributions to purchase military and other non-humanitarian aid for the Contras." As part of his plea, Carl R. "Spitz" Channell named Richard R. Miller and Oliver North as his co-conspirators.

Most people when they think about the Iran-Contra scandal think about illegal arms deals. But what slides under the radar is that people working for the NSC and CIA were using a large part of the money they raised for "educating" the public in order to gain support for US aid for the Contras. The main method of educating the public was through television commercials. It cost the NEPL $1,000,000 to pay the Robert Goodman Agency from Baltimore to make these advertisements. (13) There were also polls conducted and newspapers adds ran which supported aid to the Contras.

All of this began because CIA Director Bill Casey wanted to go around the Boland Amendment and affect public opinion so that the U.S. Would resume aiding the Contras. They used the State Department to conduct a propaganda operation on domestic soil. CIA Director Bill Casey used a covert action operator to the NSC to participate and also recruited other intelligence specialists.

The whole operation was conducted in the same manner that the CIA conducts propaganda operations in other countries despite the fact that federal law forbids the CIA from using taxpayers' money on domestic propaganda or grassroots lobbying in order to pressure congressional representatives.

  1. Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran/Contra Affair, Lee H. Hamilton, Daniel K. Inouye, DIANE Publishing, 1995