[Diary of a Vengeance Foretold] Part 127
NOVEMBER 6 1988
“Only half of the Iran-Contra Affair had been made public.”
Former MOSSAD Agent Amiram Nir — Interview with Bob Woodward, August 1998
Today Nov. 6 1988, the New York Time alleges that a newly seated Federal grand jury is investigating whether any participant in the Iran-contra affair committed perjury in testimony to a Congressional panel last year or in appearances before the grand jury. The Time quotes a source familiar with the matter said today.
Confirming an earlier report by The Associated Press, the source said the grand jury began meeting last month with lawyers from the staff of Lawrence E. Walsh, the independent prosecutor. According to the article, the jurors have begun reviewing videotapes of the 1987 Congressional Iran-contra hearings.
Bob Woodward of The Washington Post interviewed former MOSSAD agent Amiram Nir in London in August 1988. Nir told Woodward that he was considering the best way to sell his side of the story, as “only half of the Iran-contra affair had been made public”.
Nir then asked Woodward not to publish any parts of the interview until he got the go ahead. When Woodward contacted Nir again in early October, he was told that he was still not ready to go public.
Nir does not know that he has only a few days left to live. He will be executed on Dec. 1st 1988.
The Iran-contra affair
In 1985, the Reagan administration was confronted with two major international issues. In Lebanon, a dozen of American citizens were hostages of Hezbollah, an organization controlled by Tehran, and Reagan had promised that he would never negotiate with terrorists. In 1984, the Congress had cut funding to support the Contras while the Reagan administration was keen on continuing their support to fight the Communist regime.
McFarlane came up with a plan. The United States would sell weapons, at first through Israel, then directly to Iran in return for help to negotiate the release of the hostages. The weapons were sold at a premium, which was used to fund the Contras.
After a leak by Iranian radical Mehdi Hashemi to the Lebanese magazine Ash-Shiraa, the arrangement was revealed on Nov. 3, 1986.
There is little doubt that Hashemi leaked the information to derail the rapprochement process between Tehran and Washington intended by McFarlane.
Hashemi was a close allied of then-Minister of Interior Mohtashami who opposed any deal with the US, and is believed to have founded the Hezbollah organization while he was ambassador in Damascus.
At first, Reagan denied the allegations, but faced with evidence, admitted the arms sale on Nov.13, 1986.
“My purpose was … to send a signal that the United States was prepared to replace the animosity between us with a new relationship … At the same time we undertook this initiative, we made clear that Iran must oppose all forms of international terrorism as a condition of progress in our relationship. The most significant step which Iran could take, we indicated, would be to use its influence in Lebanon to secure the release of all hostages held there,” Reagan said in a nationwide address.
Meanwhile, unknown to all outside the inner circle of the president, the Reagan administration had already put in place a new plan. In January 1987, CIA veteran (1972-87) Richard Lawless set up a consulting company — US Asia Commercial Development Corp.
The then-42-year-old Lawless was a former member of the CIA Operations Directorate, who may have worked under State Department cover in Vienna and in Seoul, when Vice President George H. Bush advisor Donald Gregg was serving as the CIA station chief.
Lawless, who is widely believed to have worked directly for Bush, began a series of meeting with Iranian representatives in Geneva starting on Sept. 15, 1987.
Mohammad Javad Laridjani, the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister, was visiting Paris in early September 1988. From there, he was called unexpectedly to Geneva on the Sept. 6, 1988 for talks with American negotiators.
The Nation, an Israeli daily, reported on Sept. 30, 1988, that US and Iranian negotiators had “hammered out an agreement.”
According to the Israeli daily, progress was made when the US negotiators gave up on Col. William R. Higgins. The US accepted the Iranian line that he was either dead or no longer among the hostages controlled by Tehran. (It may have been a little more precise to state: not controlled by those in Tehran that the negotiators represented, i.e. the Rafsanjani clan.)
On Oct. 5, 1988, a French television network, La Cinq, reported that three meetings between Lawless and Iranian negotiators had taken place at Glyon, near Montreux, in late August and early September. At least, a fourth meeting occurred in early October.
Consequence for Lockerbie
The secret dealings between Washington and Tehran during 1987 and 1988 raise many questions unanswered to this day, some directly relevant to the Lockerbie investigation.
What was the origin of the funds used to continue the dealings with Tehran and the Contras in these years? Did the US run illegal drug operations, by opposition to controlled deliveries, to raise the money needed? And if so, was Monzer al-Kasaar involved in this scheme? These possibilities should not been dismissed as conspiracy theories too promptly.
Released on April 13, 1989, Senator John Kerry’s Senate Committee on Foreign Relations report on Contra drug links concluded that:
“Senior US policy makers were not immune to the idea that drug money was a perfect solution to the Contras’ funding problems.”
NOTES AND REFERENCES
Jury Is Looking into Iran-Contra Testimony — November 6, 1988