Soon after taking office in 1981, President Ronald Reagan’s national security team agreed to supply military aid to the brutal right-wing regime in Guatemala to pursue the goal of exterminating not only “Marxist guerrillas” but their “civilian support mechanisms,” according to a newly disclosed document from the National Archives.
Over the next several years, the military assistance from the Reagan administration helped the Guatemalan army do just that, engaging in the slaughter of some 100,000 people, including what a truth commission deemed genocide against the Mayan Indians in the northern highlands.
Recently discovered documents at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, also reveal that Reagan’s White House was reaching out to Israel in a scheme to circumvent congressional restrictions on military equipment for the Guatemalan military.
In 1983, national security aide Oliver North (who later became a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal) reported in a memo that Reagan’s Deputy National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane (another key Iran-Contra figure) was approaching Israel over how to deliver 10 UH-1H helicopters to Guatemala to give the army greater mobility in its counterinsurgency war.
According to these documents that I found at the Reagan library – and other records declassified in the late 1990s – it’s also clear that Reagan and his administration were well aware of the butchery underway in Guatemala and elsewhere in Central America.
The relaxed attitude toward the Guatemalan regime’s brutality took shape in spring 1981 as Reagan’s State Department “advised our Central American embassies that it has been studying ways to restore a closer, cooperative relationship with Guatemala,” according to a White House “Situation Room Checklist” dated April 8, 1981.
Just thought I'd point out the long-time wingnuttery and judicial activism of D.C. District Judge David Sentelle, the Reagan-appointee circuit judge and Jesse Helms protegee -- the man who appointed Kenneth Starr -- who just invalidated Obama's NLRB appointments, thus kicking off a whole potential mess o'legal chaos!
The D.C. district is second only to the Supreme Court in its importance, and of course it has three (soon to be four) vacancies, which Republicans refuse to allow Obama to fill. Gee, real filibuster reform would have been nice, wouldn't it?
Back to Sentelle, the lead judge of this circuit court, and a reminder that this is someone who, when he gets a chance, puts his right wing, authoritarian political beliefs over and above the principle of justice. Is it any wonder that the reason he became a judge is that he was appointed by Ronald Reagan, a man who also whenever he got a chance, also put his own right wing, authoritarian political beliefs over and above the principle of justice.
This is, for example, the same partisan hack who appointed his fellow partisan hack Kenneth Starr for his witchhunt of the Clintons.
This is, for example, the same partisan hack who enthusiastically supported the "Military Commissions Act" and its destruction of habeas corpus for enemy combatants; if you are David Sentelle and the government accuses you of a crime, you are guilty until you can prove innocence, rather than the other way around, and the government can throw up all sorts of roadblocks to prove your innocence. Unless, of course, you are someone like Ollie North. Then, of course, your innocence is fully presumed.
The man has no business wearing a judge's robe, and is a disgrace to our supposed rule of law.
For the second time in four months, Mitt Romney has penned a tough-talking op-ed on the Iranian nuclear program. But this time, the almost certain GOP presidential nominee has introduced a new riff to his constant refrain that "If we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon. If you elect me as president, Iran will not have a nuclear weapon." Now in his Washington Post piece and again in his speech Tuesday to AIPAC, Romney has portrayed himself as a modern day Ronald Reagan who will force Tehran to give up its nuclear ambitions just as it did the 52 U.S. hostages in 1981. Unfortunately, Mitt forgot the full story of the Gipper's experience with Iran. As it turned out, in the Iran-Contra scandal that almost ended his presidency, Ronald Reagan gave the mullahs in Tehran not a show of American might, but a cake, a Bible - and U.S. arms.
Romney first Reagan impersonation appeared in Monday's Washington Post as a follow up to November's "I Won't Let Iran Get Nukes." In it, he cast Barack Obama as "America's most feckless president since Carter" and cast himself as the Gipper:
Beginning Nov. 4, 1979 , dozens of U.S. diplomats were held hostage by Iranian Islamic revolutionaries for 444 days while America's feckless president, Jimmy Carter, fretted in the White House. Running for the presidency against Carter the next year, Ronald Reagan made it crystal clear that the Iranians would pay a very stiff price for continuing their criminal behavior. On Jan. 20, 1981, in the hour that Reagan was sworn into office, Iran released the hostages. The Iranians well understood that Reagan was serious about turning words into action in a way that Jimmy Carter never was.
Speaking by satellite Tuesday to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy (AIPAC) Conference, Mitt again donned his Reagan mask (around the 8:40 mark above):
"I believe the right course is what Ronald Reagan called 'peace through strength.' There is a reason why the Iranians released the hostages on the same day and at the same hour that Reagan was sworn into office. As President, I will offer that kind of clarity, strength, and resolve."
Apparently, Mitt Romney wasn't paying attention to the rest of Reagan's performance. That would be the part when Ronald Reagan swapped arms for hostages with Ayatollah Khomeini.
The Iran-Contra scandal, as you'll recall, almost laid waste to the Reagan presidency. Desperate to free U.S. hostages held by Iranian proxies in Lebanon, President Reagan provided weapons Tehran badly needed in its long war with Saddam Hussein (who, of course, was backed by the United States). In a clumsy and illegal attempt to skirt U.S. law, the proceeds of those sales were then funneled to the contras fighting the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. And as the New York Times recalled, Reagan's fiasco started with an emissary bearing gifts from the Gipper himself:
A retired Central Intelligence Agency official has confirmed to the Senate Intelligence Committee that on the secret mission to Teheran last May, Robert C. McFarlane and his party carried a Bible with a handwritten verse from President Reagan for Iranian leaders.
According to a person who has read the committee's draft report, the retired C.I.A. official, George W. Cave, an Iran expert who was part of the mission, said the group had 10 falsified passports, believed to be Irish, and a key-shaped cake to symbolize the anticipated ''opening'' to Iran.
The rest, as they say, is history. After the revelations regarding his trip to Tehran and the Iran-Contra scheme, a disgraced McFarlane attempted suicide. (That would be the same Bud McFarlane whose endorsement Newt Gingrich touted during a reecent GOP debate.) After his initial denials, President Reagan was forced to address the nation on March 4, 1987 and acknowledge he indeed swapped arms for hostages (video here):
"A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not. As the Tower board reported, what began as a strategic opening to Iran deteriorated, in its implementation, into trading arms for hostages."
On Friday, Senator John McCain became the highest ranking American political figure to meet with the Libyan rebels. But while his declaration that "they are my heroes" doubtless was well received in by the anti-Qaddafi fighters in Benghazi, McCain's track record should give Americans good reason for concern. After all, this is the same John McCain who called Ahmed Chalabi a "patriot," offered cash and support to the Nicaraguan Contras, defended Oliver North and casually declared, "we're all Georgians now."
McCain, one of the strongest proponents in Congress of the U.S. military intervention in Libya, said he was in Benghazi "to get an on-the-ground assessment of the situation" and planned to meet with the rebel National Transition Council, the de facto government in the eastern half of the country, and members of the rebel military.
"They are my heroes," McCain said of the rebels as he walked out of a Benghazi hotel. A few Libyans waved American flags as his vehicle drove past.
Of course, McCain over the years has had many heroes. Among them were the Nicaraguan Contras.
By all indications, then Congressman and later Senator McCain shared Ronald Reagan's assessment that the rebel forces trying to overthrow the Sandinista regime in Managua were "the moral equivalent of the Founding Fathers." But months before the Reagan administration ramped up the Iran-Contra operation to skirt the 1984 Congressional ban on aid, McCain was lending his name to dubious efforts to arm the right-wing fighters. As the AP explained in October 2008:
The U.S. Council for World Freedom was part of an international organization linked to former Nazi collaborators and ultra-right-wing death squads in Central America. The group was dedicated to stamping out communism around the globe.
The council's founder, retired Army Maj. Gen. John Singlaub, said McCain became associated with the organization in the early 1980s as McCain was launching his political career in Arizona. Singlaub said McCain was a supporter but not an active member in the group.
In a 1986 interview, McCain said he has resigned from the group and asked that his name be removed from their letterhead. "I didn't know whether (the group's activity) was legal or illegal," he said, "But I didn't think I wanted to be associated with them."
Perhaps, but McCain remained committed to supporting the Contras themselves. As the Washington Post reported on February 9, 1988 (via DailyKos):
Nicaraguan rebel leaders, scrambling for a survival strategy in the wake of congressional refusal last week to appropriate new aid funds, pleaded today for independent financial contributions from U.S. supporters to two private foundations based in Washington.
The contra leaders said Republican presidential candidate Robert Dole recently contributed $500 to rebel coffers, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) donated $400.
As it turns out, the biggest beneficiary of McCain's Iran-Contra largesse may have been its central figure, Oliver North.
The heat is on Fox News' Sean Hannity and Oliver North for their Freedom Alliance charity and most notably, Hannity's so called "Freedom Concerts." The concerts raise millions of dollars a year, but thanks to a little scrutiny from all political sides, we've learned that the Fox News' celebs aren't giving much of those millions to the people who are supposed to get it - the children of fallen soldiers. These disturbing revelations have now caught the eye of the non-partisan watchdog group called Charity Navigator, and they have downgraded their rating of Freedom Alliance to a less than impressive status:
Patriotic donors cannot say they weren't warned: The four-star rating of Freedom Alliance by Charity Navigator, an independent and nonpartisan Web site that rates charitable organizations, has dropped precipitously from four stars to two stars. The abrupt downgrade occurred within two days after Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed complaints against the Freedom Alliance with the Federal Trade Commission and the Internal Revenue Service, alleging consumer fraud and abuse of tax-exempt status.
The complaints also named Fox News personalities Sean Hannity and Oliver North Jr., who run Freedom Alliance and the Freedom Concerts that have raised millions of dollars over the past decade.
The four-star rating that Freedom Alliance formerly enjoyed, according to Charity Navigator's Web site, indicates that a charity is "Exceptional" and "Exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in its Cause." By contrast, a two-star rating means that a charity "Needs Improvement" and "Meets or nearly meets industry standards but underperforms most charities in its Cause. Read on...
Hannity has denied allegations that he's milking the charity for his personal, creature comforts and I'll let he and Oliver North speak for themselves. Having said that, the fact that Charity Navigator has downgraded them means they have looked at the numbers and have found cause for concern.
Oliver North, who illegally sold weapons to Iran to fund the contras in Nicaragua has become a resident military expert for FOX News and the Washington Times. He's basically a war criminal that got off on a technicality, but that's like getting a medal of honor from AEI. This crackpot attacked President Obama for asking the military to left DADT:
North: Obama is treating military "like lab rats in a radical social experiment." Oliver North, host of Fox News' War Stories, said on the February 4 edition of Fox News' Hannity that repealing "don't ask, don't tell" is a "stunning assault" on the military and that Obama "now intends to treat them like lab rats in a radical social experiment." He also said, "[T]his isn't about rights. This isn't about fairness. It's all about national security. And, apparently, Mr. Obama has forgotten it."
Later, North said of repealing "don't ask, don't tell": "Now, here's what's next. NAMBLA members, same-sex marriages. Are chaplains in the U.S. military going to be required to perform those kinds of rituals? Do they get government housing?" North added that repealing DADT "affects readiness and recruiting and retention."
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee urged Christians to get involved in politics to preserve the presence of religion in American life.
"I think this is one of the most critical moments in American history," Gingrich said. "We are living in a period where we are surrounded by paganism."
They and other speakers warned about the continuing availability of abortion, the spread of gay rights, and attempts to remove religion from American public life and school history books.
Gingrich and Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, argued the rights of Americans stem from God and to ignore that connection is perilous. The two were among several speakers, including former U.S. Senate candidate Oliver North, at the three-hour "Rediscovering God in America" event. The event was closed to reporters but was broadcast live on God.TV, an evangelical Web site.
Running for the 2012 nomination is really getting to this man's cranium because I do not see "virgins" being abducted while the pagan---Devil worshippers are using them along with blood sacrifices anywhere, have you?
By the third century CE, its meaning evolved to include all non-Christians. Eventually, it became an evil term that implied the possibility of Satan worship. The latter two meanings are still in widespread use today.
I do know that dressing up as a "witch" is still very popular for Halloween, so maybe that's the big pagans' plan to indoctrinate our young people into the occult.
The US military said that its findings were corroborated by an independent journalist embedded with the US force. He was named as the Fox News correspondent Oliver North, who came to prominence in the 1980s Iran-Contra affair, when he was an army colonel.
Sources close to one of the investigations said that a video film was shot by Afghan officials the morning after the attack. It corroborates the doctor’s footage but has not been made public.
In a statement released on Saturday, the commander of Nato forces, General David McKiernan, appeared to back away from previous US accounts. He said: “Following the recent operation in Azizabad, Shindand district, we realise there is a large discrepancy between the number of civilian casualties reported by soldiers and local villagers. I remain responsible to continue to try and account for this disparity in numbers, but above all I want to express our heartfelt sorrow to all families that lost loved ones in this firefight.”
(Some of the mobile phone footage is at that Times link. It was shot by a doctor and the Times says "has been edited to remove the most graphic footage of dead children and adults". Even so, it's not for the faint of heart.)
It is entirely unclear just what North did to "corroborate" US military claims of Taliban deaths, but his efforts to bolster the military stance appear about to go down in the same flames that killed 90 Afghan civilians.
While doubtful, perhaps the US military should rethink their reliance on the fantastical stories of a known bullshit artist and pathological liar, someone who by all rights ought to be in prison.
I wonder if we'll see North answer questions about what he said and why he said it on FOX? Somehow, I doubt it.
Keith Olbermann covered the airstrike massacre during his Bushed! segment, its disastrous diplomatic aftermath and North's involvement on Monday: "Realising that a) he's not a journalist b) he's not independent and c) his eye-witnessing includes seeing things that aren't really there, the US military has now reversed its stance..."
And, of course, the coveted gold goes to convicted felon FOX News analyst Ollie North for having the sheer audacity to chide Barack Obama for suggesting we negotiate with Iran when he (North) was the principal architect in the Reagan-era scheme to illegally sell weapons to the Iranians.