Did Cheney Use Iran-Contra ‘Lessons Learned’ to Keep Iran War Plans Secret?

One revelation in Seymour Hersh’s New Yorker article about Vice Pres. Cheney’s not-so-secret plan to attack Iran bears more scrutiny. It involves Elliott Abrams — a Reagan Administration official who got caught in the Iran-Contra scandal, pleaded guilty to withholding information from Congress and was later pardoned by the first Pres. George Bush.

“One, you can’t trust our friends. Two, the C.I.A. has got to be totally out of it. Three, you can’t trust the uniformed military, and four, it’s got to be run out of the Vice-President’s office.”

With a record like that, it should be no surprise that the current Pres. Bush has every confidence in Abrams, who currently serves as his Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy. Hersh suggests that Abrams has been helpful, at least indirectly, in providing Cheney and his team with a primer on how to operate secret government operations, as he, Oliver North, John Poindexter and then-Sec. of Defense Caspar Weinberger did during Iran-Contra — but, unlike them, without getting caught:

Iran-Contra was the subject of an informal “lessons learned” discussion two years ago among veterans of the scandal. Abrams led the discussion. One conclusion was that even though the program was eventually exposed, it had been possible to execute it without telling Congress. As to what the experience taught them, in terms of future covert operations, the participants found: “One, you can’t trust our friends. Two, the C.I.A. has got to be totally out of it. Three, you can’t trust the uniformed military, and four, it’s got to be run out of the Vice-President’s office” — a reference to Cheney’s role, the former senior intelligence official said…

[A] Pentagon consultant added that one difficulty, in terms of oversight [over Cheney’s operations], was accounting for covert funds. “There are many, many pots of black money, scattered in many places and used all over the world on a variety of missions,” he said. The budgetary chaos in Iraq, where billions of dollars are unaccounted for, has made it a vehicle for such transactions, according to the former senior intelligence official and the retired four-star general.

“This goes back to Iran-Contra,” a former National Security Council aide told me. “And much of what they’re doing is to keep the agency out of it.” He said that Congress was not being briefed on the full extent of the U.S.-Saudi operations. And, he said, “The C.I.A. is asking, ‘What’s going on?’ They’re concerned, because they think it’s amateur hour.”

As is all too obvious, since we know about the secret plan, either Cheney’s war planners did not follow Abrams’ advice, or they consciously chose to leak their plans in order to unnerve their counterparts in Iran.

In any case, it’s worth noting that Our Liberal Media is completely untroubled by the fact that the U.S. government is set to foment a full-scale sectarian war in the Middle East between between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.

“Lessons learned,” indeed.


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  • matt
    February 27, 2007 - 4:28 pm | Permalink

    The reason we’re in the mess we are now is because Bubba Clinton and his cronies in the DLC were more concerned with pushing their agenda for gutting welfare in this country and showing they could be nice Republican-lite people than with investigating Bush I and all the illegal and unconstitutional things his administration was involved in.

    Had Clinton pushed for investigations into the previous two administrations before he came into office, the American people would have been so outraged at what was unearthed that this current crew of criminals would never have been allowed anywhere near the Oval Office, let alone the US Treasury.

    Rahm Emanuel and the people behind him want to see someone just like Bubba in the White House so it behooves all of us to make sure that the Israel lobby-backed wing of the Democratic Party remains in the minority.

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  • July 19, 2008 - 8:15 pm | Permalink

    And does one believe a year later this office is still working to trigger war with Iran before 2009 and recent diplomacy moves overtake their long sought neo con staategy ie New 21st Century Manifesto attack 12 countries.

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