By Wayne Madsen of The Strategic Culture Foundation
It was October and the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate was faltering in the polls after the Democratic National Convention. The Republican Party’s presidential candidate began negotiating with a foreign government to cook up a scheme to embarrass the Democratic candidate. The scheme was successful and the Democratic candidate went on to lose the election to a Republican candidate who was feared by many for his unorthodox stance on several domestic and foreign issues.
If one thinks the above description is about the recent 2016 election, he or she would be wrong.
In 1980, Democratic President Jimmy Carter, running for re-election under the cloud of the U.S. embassy in Tehran having been seized by radical Iranian students and 52 members of its staff being held hostage, was trying desperately to pull off an «October Surprise» to salvage his presidency.
Unbeknownst to Carter, the campaign of his Republican rival, Ronald Reagan, had secretly negotiated an «arms-for-no-hostages» deal with the Ayatollah Khomeini’s regime in Iran.
In return for the shipment of embargoed military items, including spare parts for Iran’s U.S.-supplied F-14 Tomcat fighter planes and Phoenix air-to-air missiles for the planes, before the November 4 election, the Reagan team was promised by the Iranians that Tehran would hold the hostages until after the November election. Upon Reagan’s defeat of Carter, Iran held true to its promise and did not release the American hostages until noon Eastern Standard Time on January 20, 1981, the very moment Reagan raised his hand to take the presidential oath of office.
Although the media today is rife with reports of so-called «treasonous» contacts between Donald Trump advisers and officials of the Russian government, the media was not to be found anywhere in October 1980 when the Central Intelligence Agency, working with the Reagan campaign, contracted with a U.S. merchant vessel, the «SS Poet», to deliver the U.S. military contraband to Iran. In 1980, vice presidential candidate George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan’s campaign manager William Casey secretly met with Iranian government officials, reportedly in Paris, and worked out the covert «arms-for-no-hostages» plan. The Reagan team was worried that Carter would beat them to the punch because of the White House’s own secret negotiations with Iranian representatives to have the hostages freed in October, giving Carter a much-need campaign boost.
The Reagan conspirators included, in addition to Bush and Casey, Robert Gates and Donald Gregg, the CIA’s moles inside the Carter National Security Council. Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, not happy with Carter’s human rights stance, may have given a «wink and a nod» to the treason. The entire caper was conducted without the knowledge of Stansfield Turner, Carter’s friend and U.S. Naval Academy classmate who served as CIA director…