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Old Names, Old Scandals: Robert Gates was a controversial figure in the Iran-contra affair

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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-09-06 01:43 AM
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Old Names, Old Scandals: Robert Gates was a controversial figure in the Iran-contra affair
Will his Reagan-era activities hamper his confirmation as Rumsfelds successor?

Web Exclusive
By Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball
Updated: 6:56 p.m. ET Nov 8, 2006

Nov. 8, 2006 - By choosing Robert Gates as his new Defense secretary, President George W. Bush is once again turning to a trusted warhorse from his fathers administration. But the Gates nomination also could remind the new Democratic Congress about controversies from the George H.W. Bush era as well.

Gates was investigated during the late 1980s and 1990s by independent counsel Lawrence Walsh over whether Gates had told the truth about the Iran-contra affair, which occurred during his tenure as deputy to Ronald Reagans CIA director, William Casey. Questions about Gates's knowledge of secret arms sales to Iranand the diversion of proceeds to support the Nicaraguan contrascaused Gates to withdraw his nomination to succeed Casey as CIA director in 1987.

Gates was again nominated by President George H.W. Bush to be CIA chief in 1991, setting off an intense and spirited confirmation hearing in which charges and countercharges about Iran-contra flared anew. Gates also was publicly accused by former CIA subordinates of slanting intelligence about the Soviet threata criticism that evokes an eerie parallel to accusations hurled against the current Bush administration over its handling of pre-war intelligence about Iraqs weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties to Al Qaeda.

After months of partisan wrangling and debate, Gates was confirmed as CIA director in November 1991 and served in that capacity until the end of the first President Bushs term in January 1993. He later served as director of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and, after that, as president of Texas A&M University where the Bush library is housed. After Congress in 2004 passed "intelligence reform" legislation creating the post of a national intelligence director to co-ordinate the activities of feuding intelligence agencies, the White House approached Gates to see if he wanted to become the first new intelligence czar. But on that occasion, Gates turned George W. Bush down ...
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Kiouni Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-09-06 01:51 AM
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1. Good info Thanks!
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kenny blankenship Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-09-06 01:54 AM
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2. It's amazing how they PREFER to dig up the ignoble dead
from their party's past, rather than to choose someone who is on the rise.
What's up with that? Given the choice between on the one hand, some Republican cut down in shame by some scandal or some failed policy of a previous decade, and on the other hand, an experienced (but still living) figure, they always go for "rehabilitating" the disgraced, obscure scandal victim.

Next thing you know they'll be reanimating Nixon's corpse to serve as Secretary General of the UN.
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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-09-06 02:01 AM
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4. Poor George has only his father's contacts. He doesn't know who he could
trust and so he repeatedly brings back people who are well past their prime to work for him, simply because they are familiar names.
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starroute Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-09-06 01:56 AM
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3. It's not "an eerie parallel" -- it's the same M.O.
When George H.W. Bush was CIA director in 1976, he headed up "Team B" -- an attempt to find more damning evidence of Soviet military strength than the CIA proper was prepared to endorse. When Gates became deputy CIA director under Casey in 1981, he had essentially the same assignment.

At that time, the focus was shifting from the communism to terrorism, by way of a cockamamie theory, much loved by Michael Ledeen and his pals, that the Soviet Union was the source and sponsor of all international terrorism. Gates was part of that process as well.

So the cherry-picking about terrorism or Iraqi WMD's that goes on today is fruit from the same tainted tree as what Gates was doing 25 years ago. There isn't even enough space to see daylight between them.

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rumpel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-09-06 02:10 AM
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5. You are right he consumes an entire Chapter, if interested
Edited on Thu Nov-09-06 02:16 AM by rumpel


Division for the Purpose of

Appointing Independent Counsel

Division No. 86-6




Volume I:

Investigations and Prosecutions

Lawrence E. Walsh

Independent Counsel

August 4, 1993

Washington, D.C.



Chapter 16

Robert M. Gates

Robert M. Gates was the Central Intelligence Agency's deputy director for intelligence (DDI) from 1982 to 1986. He was confirmed as the CIA's deputy director of central intelligence (DDCI) in April of 1986 and became acting director of central intelligence in December of that same year. Owing to his senior status in the CIA, Gates was close to many figures who played significant roles in the Iran/contra affair and was in a position to have known of their activities. The evidence developed by Independent Counsel did not warrant indictment of Gates for his Iran/contra activities or his responses to official inquiries.

The Investigation

Gates was an early subject of Independent Counsel's investigation, but the investigation of Gates intensified in the spring of 1991 as part of a larger inquiry into the Iran/contra activities of CIA officials. This investigation received an additional impetus in May 1991, when President <Bush@ nominated Gates to be director of central intelligence (DCI). The chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) requested in a letter to the Independent Counsel on May 15, 1991, any information that would ``significantly bear on the fitness'' of Gates for the CIA post.

Grand Jury secrecy rules hampered Independent Counsel's response. Nevertheless, in order to answer questions about Gates' prior testimony, Independent Counsel accelerated his investigation of Gates in the summer of 1991. This investigation was substantially completed by September 3, 1991, at which time Independent Counsel determined that Gates' Iran/contra activities and testimony did not warrant prosecution.1

1 Independent Counsel made this decision subject to developments that could have warranted reopening his inquiry, including testimony by Clair E. <George@, the CIA's former deputy director for operations. At the time Independent Counsel reached this decision, the possibility remained that <George@ could have provided information warranting reconsideration of Gates's status in the investigation. <George@ refused to cooperate with Independent Counsel and was indicted on September 19, 1991. <George@ subpoenaed Gates to testify as a defense witness at <George@'s first trial in the summer of 1992, but Gates was never called.

Gates and the Diversion

Gates consistently testified that he first heard on October 1, 1986, from the national intelligence officer who was closest to the Iran initiative, Charles E. <Allen@, that proceeds from the Iran arms sales may have been diverted to support the contras.2 Other evidence proves, however, that Gates received a report on the diversion during the summer of 1986 from DDI Richard <Kerr@. The issue was whether Independent Counsel could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Gates was deliberately not telling the truth when he later claimed not to have remembered any reference to the diversion before meeting with <Allen@ in October.

2 See, for example, Gates, Grand Jury, 5/1/91, p. 135 (``Q. Do you recall that in this time frame also you became initially_well, let me not characterize it_you became aware of what is now referred to as the diversion. A. Yes. I had a meeting with the NIO, the national intelligence officer, Charlie <Allen@, on the lst of October.''); Gates, SSCI Confirmation Hearing, 2/17-18/87, p. 13 (response to written interrogatory about his knowledge of the diversion).

<Allen@ did not personally convey to Gates his concerns about the diversion until October 1, 1986.3 <Allen@ testified, however, that he became worried during the summer of 1986 that the Iran initiative would be derailed by a pricing impasse that developed after former National Security Adviser Robert C. <McFarlane@ failed in his attempt to secure release of the hostages during his trip to Tehran in May 1986. Lt. Col. Oliver L. <North@ of the NSC staff had inflated the price to the Iranians for HAWK missile spare parts that were to be delivered at the Tehran meeting by a multiple of 3.7. Manucher <Ghorbanifar@, who brokered the parts sale, added a 41% markup to <North@'s price of $15 million. With another increase added by <Ghorbanifar@ during the Tehran meeting, the Iranians were charged a total of $24.5 million for HAWK spare parts priced by the Defense Department at $3.6 million.4

3 <Allen@ believed, however, that he sent a memorandum to Gates discussing, among other things, how much money <North@ needed to pay Manucher <Ghorbanifar@ from the Iran initiative. (Memorandum from <Allen@ to the DCI, Subject: American Hostages, 11/10/86, ER 19739; Allen, Grand Jury, 1/4/88, pp. 19-21.) Independent Counsel was unable to corroborate Allen's testimony.

4 Allen, Grand Jury, 8/9/91, pp. 100-02.

In late June 1986, Mohsen <Kangarlu@, <Ghorbanifar@'s channel to the Iranian government, informed the CIA through Agency annuitant George <Cave@ that the Iranians had evidence that they were being drastically overcharged for HAWK missile spare parts. <Kangarlu@ asked the Americans to lower the price. Led by <North@, the Americans first attempted to blame <Ghorbanifar@ for the overcharges. When blaming <Ghorbanifar@ failed to break the impasse in U.S.-Iran talks, <North@ sought to convince the Iranians that the pricing was fair, and attempted to provide the Iranians with falsified pricing documents.5

5 Cave, Grand Jury, 8/30/91, pp. 94-99; Allen, Select Committees Deposition, 6/29/87, pp. 534-40.

A frightened and angry <Ghorbanifar@ finally called <Allen@ in late August 1986 to complain that the situation had become unbearable. He told <Allen@ that he had borrowed $15 million to finance the HAWK parts transactions, and that he was now being pursued by his creditors for repayment. <Ghorbanifar@ insisted that it was not his markup, but the U.S. Government's, that was responsible for the pricing impasse. <Ghorbanifar@ then pleaded with <Allen@ to do something to resolve the issue. <Allen@ told <Ghorbanifar@ that he would bring the matter to <North@'s attention.6

6 Allen, Grand Jury, 8/9/91, pp. 110-13.

By this time, <Allen@ had concluded that something was deeply wrong with the Iran initiative.7 <Allen@ related his concerns to <Cave@, Duane R. <Clarridge@, a senior officer in the CIA's Directorate of Operations, and <North@. <North@ told <Allen@ not to believe <Ghorbanifar@ because he was a liar. Instead, <North@ insisted that <Allen@ stick to the story that gathering the HAWK spares was expensive and to not break ranks with other U.S. officials on the pricing cover story.8

7 Ibid., pp. 113-15:

I had begun to think along those lines, after the 15th of August 1986, when it was clear that with White House support, Major General <Secord@ and Mr. <Hakim@ had established a new link or a new channel into the government of Iran. It was clear that they were dealing with Hashem <Rafsanjani@, Ali Hashem <Rafsanjani@, who was a nephew, I believe, of the current President <Rafsanjani@.

It was clear to me that Mr. <Hakim@ and Major General <Secord@ were moving to take over the control of the operation; that they were moving to exclude Mr. <Ghorbanifar@_that was very clear. I was very much aware that Mr. <Hakim@ by that time and Mr. <Secord@ were involved in other matters, relating to the contras in Central America.

It appeared to me that Mr. <Ghorbanifar@'s call was sort of the final indicator that something was deeply awry_that the problem was not Mr. <Ghorbanifar@; the problem was the operation being directed by U.S. officials. And I then came to the analytic judgement_based on all these indications that money was being diverted from the profits from the sale of arms to Iran to the contras in Central America.

I did not have hard proof of this. In fact, I had no direct evidence in writing from anyone. It was simply aggregating a series of indicators into a conclusion. And at that point it was at that time or shortly thereafter, I recall walking out from the building to my car late in the evening and thinking very deeply about this_thinking of the fact that two operations were probably being combined_that the lives of the hostages were being actually endangered by such a reckless venture; nd I raised the point with Mr. <Cave@ at the office.


11 Kerr, FBI 302, 7/31/91, pp. 4-5; see also Helgerson, FBI 302, 9/5/91, pp. 4-5.

Still, <Kerr@ admitted that he took <Allen@'s concerns seriously enough to bring them to Gates, who was <Kerr@'s immediate superior. <Kerr@ acknowledged this meeting in two interviews with the CIA's inspector general, and in an interview with the Select Committees. <Kerr@ stated that he did not remember when this meeting took place, dating it some time between May and September 1986.12 In an interview with the inspector general on December 4, 1986, <Kerr@ stated that Gates's response was, ``God only knows what Ollie is up to.'' A memorandum for the record written by a CIA attorney reporting <Kerr@'s interview with the Select Committees recites that <Kerr@ testified that when he informed Gates of <Allen@'s concerns, ``Gates responded that he was aware that rumors were circulating that profits were being made on the sales of arms to Iran and that money from the arms sales was being made available to the Contras.'' 13

12 Gates's calendar shows frequent meetings with <Kerr@ in late August 1986, but this is inconclusive evidence of when the meeting occurred. Dating the meeting is made even harder by the close working and personal relationship between <Kerr@ and Gates. According to Diane <Edwards@, Gates's secretary, <Kerr@ was in regular contact with Gates and was among a handful of people who would see Gates without an appointment. (Edwards, FBI 302, 8/23/91, pp. 1-2.)

13 Working Notes, Kerr, CIA IG Interview, 12/4/86; Memorandum from Pearline to the Record, Subject: Interview of Dick Kerr, 9/10/87, OCA 87-3899. <Pearline@ stood by his notes of Kerr's Select Committees' interview. (Pearline, FBI 302, 9/12/91, p. 5.) <Helgerson@ told the OIC that <Kerr@ informed him shortly after speaking with Gates of their conversation. (Helgerson, FBI 302, 9/5/91, p. 5.)

<Kerr@ told Independent Counsel that he did not recall Gates referring to other rumors of a diversion at this meeting.14 The Select Committees' report of the interview did not contain the statement that Gates was aware of ``rumors'' of a diversion, but it did state that Gates told <Kerr@ to ``keep him informed.'' Accordingly, the evidence was clear that Gates's statements concerning his initial awareness of the diversion were wrong: <Kerr@ brought him the information from <Allen@ over a month earlier than Gates admitted. This would have been material because it suggested that the CIA continued to support <North@'s activities without informing <North@'s superiors or investigating. By October, when Gates claimed he first remembered hearing of the diversion, <Casey@ ordered an inquiry and later made a report to <Poindexter@; but, by then, the <Hasenfus@ aircraft had been shot down and <Casey@ and Gates were beginning to cover.

p 383 of 784


14 Kerr, FBI 302, 7/31/91, p. 5. <Kerr@ admitted that he and Gates had reviewed the incident several times since. (Ibid.)

Gates's defense was that he did not recall the <Kerr@ meeting.15 To say the least, this was disquieting. He had been told by a very senior officer that two of President <Reagan@'s personal priorities were in danger_not something an ambitious deputy director of central intelligence would likely forget. <Allen@ was acting as a whistle-blower in a difficult situation. His concern was for the safety of the hostages and the success of the efforts of the President. His information suggested serious malfeasance by Government officials involved in a clandestine and highly sensitive operation. Even though Gates may have believed <Allen@ to be excessively concerned, could such an expression of concern be forgotten, particularly after it had been corroborated within a few weeks? Logically, Gates could ignore or forget the <Allen@ report only if he already knew of the diversion and he knew that <Casey@ and <Poindexter@ knew of the diversion. Gates also was on the distribution list for highly reliable intelligence that should have informed him of the pricing dispute among <Kangarlu@, <Ghorbanifar@, and the U.S. Government, although it did not refer specifically to any diversion of funds. Gates claimed that he rarely reviewed the intelligence.16 <North@ testified that he did not discuss the diversion with Gates or in Gates's presence. Gates also never met with Richard <Secord@, whom Gates was aware of only as a ``private benefactor'' (the CIA's term for non-Government donors to the contras) by July 1986.17

15 In testimony he gave before the Select Committees' report was issued, Gates made no reference to a meeting with <Kerr@. In two later Grand Jury appearances, however, Gates acknowledged the conflict between his recollection of events and <Kerr@'s, but he insisted that he did not recall the meeting. (Gates, Grand Jury, 2/19/88, pp. 22-23; Gates, Grand Jury, 5/1/91, p. 140.)
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Vidar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-09-06 06:30 PM
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6. There's always Brownie.
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