("We're from the Government and we're here to help") Not bad enough we were about to become mired in Central America, we had to get involved invadi
January 21, 2010

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("We're from the Government and we're here to help")

Not bad enough we were about to become mired in Central America, we had to get involved invading the tiny island of Grenada in 1983.

As with most things during the Reagan Years, it was shrouded in mystery. With conflicting reports, a press blackout and bungling from the word go. This Face The Nation from October 30, 1983 featuring Leslie Stahl with Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Deputy Secretary of State Kenneth Dam was typical of the aura of confusion that month.

Leslie Stahl (CBS News): “As you well know, President Reagan has already been on television telling the people, the American people, that this was an outpost to export terrorism. You seem to be saying we haven’t fully analyzed the situation. Are we pulling back from that assessment now?”

Kenneth Dam (Deputy Secretary of State): “Not at all. What we’re saying is, we now have the facts and we’re going to let the facts speak for themselves.”

Stahl: “Senator Moynihan, you’re on the Intelligence Committee, you got a briefing on all of this the other day, are you convinced that this was a military outpost to export terrorism?”

Sen. Moynihan: “I’m convinced the American government better let the American press on to that island to look at the situation. I think we were right in the Senate to invoke the War Powers Act in order to give Mister Damme and his associates an opportunity to spell out what we have learned, what we knew in advance, and what we know now. That’s to your advantage to do that.”

Stahl: “Has the Administration rushed to judgment here, do you think?”

Moynihan: “It will be said so if other people can’t independently confirm that judgment and that is not now the case.”

Stahl: “Our government told us, without the press being there, that there were eleven hundred Cubans and half that group were fighting in the hills. Now you say that’s not true. What is wrong with our intelligence mechanism that we’re not being able to figure out what’s happening on the ground there?”

Dam: “Well, it’s difficult to know how many people are shooting at you. I understand that larger judgment was based on some documents, but now that we’ve gotten better information we’ve gotten a new estimate. These are estimates. I agree with you, we ought to have the press on the ground and I understand at least a hundred and fifty are going to be there today.”

* *

* *

Leslie Stahl (CBS News): “Now the President hasn’t really explained the legal justification for our going in there, and this seems to be the basis for one of our allies being so up in arms. How are we going to turn world opinion around if the President is out saying it’s a military outpost and we can’t even prove it at this point?”

Kenneth Dam (Deputy Sec. of State): “ Well I don’t think there’s any doubt about the facts that there are all these weapons there, I don’t think that’s the question. I’m not sure whether you’re asking me about the legal justification or . . .

Stahl: “Well I’m asking how you’re going to turn world opinion around if you don’t seem to have the facts fully at this point and you’ve already been out in the public making claims about what the Cubans were doing . . .we don’t seem to be able to completely prove it.”

Dam: Well it’s take a while to go through all those weapons and those docments. We’re being shot at”.

Needless to say, during the Reagan years, straight answers were very hard to come by.

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