US Presidential profiles in violations of Justice. (Part 7 – former President Ronald Reagan)

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan
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The 40th US President Ronald Wilson Reagan

“Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction” – Ronald Reagan.
“Government is not the solution to our problems;government is the problem”  – Ronald Reagan.
An interesting man and an interesting US President. Perceived by many as one of the greatest US Presidents over the last decades, and Republicans often proudly refer to him. There is however more to him than the strict public image as cherished by many, but it proves that public image and the reality of some background events are not always the same and sometimes easily forgotten. Or sometimes not even published or known. Needless to say that Reagan was interesting , with an unusual background and an extremely level of high achievement at elderly age. Amazing actually the move he made from the film industry to the business of politics and even getting elected US President. But how?

Ronald Reagan was born in Tampico, Illinois, in 1911 and in a family with an Irish background. He signed up as a film actor by Warner Brothers in 1937 and moved to Hollywood making his début in “Love is in the air”. He participated and starred in about 50 films, including “Bed time for Bonzo” and”The Killers”.

Despite being an admirer of Franklin D. Roosevelt  he became a republican once getting interesting in politics and especially after his second marriage in 1952 with the wealthy actress Nancy Davis.  Joining the Republicans in 1962 he made an impressive television appeal  for the Republican party and Barry M  Goldwater during the Presidential campaign in 1964.

In 1960 Reagan actually already campaigned for Richard Nixon, – she he got the flavour of all this besides some experience.

By 1966 Reagan became elected Governor of California and served in this place for 8 years. He did loose the Republican nomination to Richard Nixon in 1968. In 1980 however he managed to defeat Jimmy Carter within the turbulent economic situation of the US, together with an Iran hostage crisis dragging on without being resolved.  Ironically hours after his inauguration the hostages were released, as part of a pre-election deal with a close relative of Khomeini in both Paris and Madrid with representatives of the Reagan/Bush campaign team, if they were not themselves involved. As will be reflected later on with President G.W.Bush, this was somewhat controversial the least.                                                                                                                                  (Iran-hostage crisis – Discovery channel)

Both Bush and Reagan were most worried that President Carter would be reelected and they offered as non official US representatives a better deal to Khomeini will full recognition of the Islāmic Republic in Iran and a policy on non-interference, in return for prolonging the hostage crisis until after the US Presidential elections. This would defeat President Carter, as it did. Obviously this was strongly undermining the Presidency of Jimmy Carter  at the cost of hostages and at the cost of long-term security interests of the US and at a cost of any morality standards. The last  will be shown as well in the Iran-Contra scandal in which the Mena Airport in Arkansas was used for illegal cocaine trafficking  with full awareness of the Federal Government and the Governor at the time in Arkansas, Bill Clinton. Reportedly both George H.W Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Jeb Bush were involved either by participating and/or various cover up’s. Saline County prosecutor Dan Harmon was convicted of various felonies including drug and racketeering charges in 1997. He was released from prison in 2006 for helping prosecutors in a murder case. The allegations have been disputed, however former President Clinton failed in his duty to show the activities of the Reagan/Bush Administration to Congress.  Bush as Vice-President with close CIA connections was fully aware as it was a large-scale CIA operation.

Reagan’s first year in office did show the greatest changes in priorities since the “New Deal” of Roosevelt.  The economy and recession were significant problems. Reagan managed to cut taxes and carry out economic reforms, apart from building up the US defence systems to “allow the country to negotiate from a position of strength”. The invasion of Grenada in October 1983 did boost US self-confidence. His 6 National Security advisers did include Admiral John Pointdexter and marine Colonel Oliver North. The last 2 interesting advisers will be discussed in the Iran-Contra scandal.

Following an assassination attempt in 1881 and despite much economic problems not being resolved still, President Reagan became reelected in 1984 with a record majority. By 1984 however the economy was on the mend and his program on domestic issues involving tax cut and deficit financing did contribute between 1983 and 1986 to the improvement of the economy. It did not last however as military spending increased. Close to the end of Reagan’s second term in office there was an unprecedented government debt. The Gross federal Debt had increased from $900 billion to $ 2.7 trillion. Ford and  Carter combined did only double Federal debt  and what took almost 31 years to make the first postwar debt tripling, Reagan managed to this in eight years. The question with federal debt is still where the priorities are, whether the budget needs to come at least for quite some part at the benefit of US citizens or whether a disproportionate part is used for both (often proper) military activities, besides many  illegal covert operations, – wasting  lives and resources in often pointless conflicts. The Khomeini/Reagan deal was a short-term solution for Republican election benefit, but a disastrous long-term solution for US interest in Iran considering the size and dangers of the military in the current Islāmic Republic. The US has a history of supporting the wrong countries with the wrong  leaders for short-term benefits as illustrated in the war against terror during the latest G.W. Bush Administration. The spiral of violence, the risk of terror, and the military costing will only increase with such an approach with an equal loss in American lives and others as due to ill-advised selections to go both to conflict and war.

During his second term in office and most positive however, Reagan managed to build up a good working relationship with the Soviet leader  Mikhail Gorbachev and signed an agreement on scrapping the intermediate nuclear forces. The Iran Contra Affair during 1986/1987 became a dark issue involving illegal arms for hostage deals with Iran by his senior staff with his knowledge. It proved that Pointdexter and Oliver North (all part of his National Security Advisers) were involved in secretly facilitating the sale of arms to Iran which became into an arms – for – hostages scheme, where a portion of the profits from the sales were diverted to fund anti-sandinista and anti-communist rebels (the “Contras”), in Nicaragua.  As a result of the controversy his White House Chief of Staff Donald Regan and his National Security Adviser John Poindexter had to resign but it did however not affect Reagan.  However both he and in particular the Vice-President G.W. Bush were fully aware as it was a fully approved CIA operation, with part of it still being related with the “Khomeini” deal to get the US Presidential election for Reagan and defeat Carter. Again, – the Iran-Contra affair was a highly illegal and controversial operation with drugs being imported as part of a huge CIA operation on Mena Airport in Arkansas.   Bill Clinton at the time was Governor in Arkansas, with “the former President Clinton” being fully aware and neither responding to the Arkansas Committee requiring investigations, nor supporting Polk County Prosecuting Attorney Joe Hardegree and Charles Black by any funding of required investigation. An illustration as well how people at the highest political level are neither willing nor permitting essential justice being done for the sake of allowing compromising CIA activities to be concealed, and not damaging their own political ambitions.                                                                                                                                    (Reagan meets Gorbachev)

Reagan once said that his actor talents served him well in the White House and being described as “The great communicator” he proved to use the modern media quite well.  Vice-President Bush with his background to carry out President Fords Executive Order 11905 in the past in his function as CIA director was supposed to improve the image of the CIA under the Ford Administration, but obviously he did not stick to the principles of this Executive Order when he became Vice-President under Reagan. In actual fact this is not that surprising as Vice-President Bush at the time had high level contacts with the “hawks” in the CIA, people who knew him longer and people he knew longer. Some of the contacts were still based on the early 1960ties.

Whilst Reagan did support the Contra’s,  no formal evidence could be found that he approved the diversion of moneys to the Contras. The White House buffers did work well, as is apparently a need for US President’s engaging in illegal activities. Oliver North reflected in his later book that Reagan really knew everything.                                                                                                                                (Iran Contra Coverup: 1 of 8)                                                                                                                              (Oliver North  Questioned)

Interestingly some people involved in the Iran-Contra scandal who (nearly) convicted initially were afterwards pardoned, and even became then prominent members within the Administration of eg George W. Bush. Elliot Abrams gained notoriety as due to most controversial decisions on foreign policy issues during the Reagan Administration on Nicaragua and El Salvador. Convicted in 1991 on 2 misdemeanor counts of unlawfully withholding information from Congress in connection with the Iran Contra Affair investigation, he was appointed on February 2, 2005, by President George W. Bush to Deputy National Security Adviser for Global Democracy Strategy. In this new position, Abrams became responsible for overseeing the National Security Council’s directorate of Democracy, “Human Rights” (we will discuss the human rights records of the former President G.W.Bush later), and International Organization Affairs and its directorate of Near East and North African Affairs.It is just one example that people owe each other in Government. There is still however secrecy around the Iran Contra scandal. An other example eg is Robert Michael Gates who served as the 22nd United States Secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011. Prior to this, Gates served for 26 years in the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council, and under President George H. W. Bush as Director of Central Intelligence.  Independent Counsel for Iran-Contra Scandal, issued on August 4, 1993, said that 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.  Independent Counsel did not warrant indictment. In 1984, as deputy director of CIA, Gates advocated that the U.S. start a bombing campaign against Nicaragua and that the U.S. would do everything in its power apart from direct military invasion of the country to remove the Sandinista government.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         (Bush, Reagan let drugs flow free to US from Nicaragua – ex dealer)

The contra militants in Honduras were heavily involved in the guerilla war to topple the government of Nicaragua.Their warfare was consistent with widespread human rights abuses, including murder,torture,mutilation,rape, kidnapping destruction and arson. At the time Iran was amidst the Iran-Iraq war. There is evidence of Israeli involvement when the US government approved the sale. Besides this it has been clear in retrospect that CIA covert actions became more favourable within the Reagan Administration with William Casey being the Director of the CIA. Executive Order 1233 in December 1981 gave the CIA exclusive rights to conduct covert action unless the President would choose that a different Agency would be more effective to reach specific goals. Whilst CIA covert operations flourished at various places around the world, with the rice of Gorbachev, Reagan was able to symbolise a new beginning with the Soviets and an arms reduction treaty was signed during the 1988 Moscow summit. Despite hard-liners in the Soviet Union and his own Government (vice-president Bush), the personal bond between Gorbachev and Reagan contributed to the end of the cold war.

The last on the more positive illustrates how important fruitful relations are at international level. Interestingly Reagan’s CIA Director William Casey played initially a large part in Reagan’s foreign policy, based on a book “The Terror Network” where the USSR was perceived as the world’s worst “terrorist activity providing” country. Despite other CIA evidence that this was actually black propaganda by the CIA itself, Reagan went along with Casey’s book after he got it approved by a professor. Again an illustration on the importance to have trustworthy people in the top positions of the CIA as the agenda from the CIA is different from the agenda of the US President and even within the CIA some branches have different intelligence, contradicting at times. For a US President does not apply to pick his choice which suits him best, but to get the best possible CIA Director providing him with unbiassed and correct information as  manipulation of the truth with wrong factual information can create a potential of disasters.

Strictly Casey was the architect of the arms-for- hostages deal. Hours before Casey had to testify before Congress about his knowledge about the Iran-Contra affair he was admitted in hospital “as he could not speak anymore”.

Despite a “charming” Reagan, the US not only increased its involvement in the Middle East by providing arms to both Iran and Iraq in the war against each other, but there was an increasing involvement as well in various conflicts around the world including South America. Whilst Reagan’s policy at home was strongly “anti-drug orientated”, the CIA accomplished a large narcotic smuggling ring within the United States of America with Reagan approving the coöperation between the CIA and the Contra’s. After years of Federal investigations by the Kerry Congressional Committee the CIA finally admitted in 1998 to its involvement in drug trafficking in the US.

Under the Reagan Administration the CIA was allowed to do things in homeland America not seen at a level before. The CIA had even the right to infiltrate in any political organisation in the US itself as well. US citizens who became aware of CIA activities and disclosed them to the Press could be put in jail for 5 years. The fact that the CIA was used within the US against other groups in not new as former President Nixon used CIA connections as well with wide-spread wiretapping and in actions at the Watergate complex against the Democratic Party.

As history will show Republican Governments until the latest of George W. Bush (the son of H.W.Bush) do show certain patterns neither being legal nor desired for the US. After his election in 1980 Reagan overturned an arms embargo imposed on Guatemala by previous US President Jimmy Carter. Reagan permitted Guatemala’s army to buy 3.2 million dollar in military trucks and jeeps in June 1981 and to help this sale he simply removed the vehicles from the list of military equipment which was covered by the human rights embargo. Obviously Reagan approved this, however again in very close consultation with his Vice-President G.H.Bush.

With US support the Guatemalan Government was able to drive its regime of political repression with its army and escalating its slaughter of political dissidents and their assumed supporters to unprecedented levels. Whilst general Efrain Rios  Montt seized power in a coupé d’etat in March 1982, Rios Montt was praised by Reagan as a “man of great personal integrity”. In October 1982 however Rios Montt gave secretly carte blanche to the feared “Archivos” Intelligence Unit to increase “death squad operations”. The Reagan Administration tried to hide the crimes.The US embassy claimed on the 22nd of October 1982 that the Guatemalan government was the victim of a communist orientated “disinformation campaign”.

There are various other dark sides of the Reagan administration despite evidently positive achievements in the relationships with the new Soviet leader eventually.This was vital for the world.

The CIA however got even more control in- and supervision over – covert operations both within the US as elsewhere.

Reagan left the White House after 2 terms in office on a very popular note but his Central America policies apart from his domestic social programs were the least supported. When George H Bush took over as the 41 st US President he faced a record budget and trade deficit.

Both Reagan and Vice-President Bush got into power based an illegal pre-election deal with the Islāmic Republic, based on full recognition and non-interference, undermining the real US President Jimmy Carter to get a solution with the hostage crisis. Bush and Reagan with CIA support (as the right-wing section of the CIA did not agree with the CIA Director nominated by President Carter)  delayed the hostage crisis on purpose with a better deal for the Islāmic Republic of Khomeini and an election outcome in favour for the Republicans. Once in power those particular Republicans achieved some reasonable things. However the underlying corruption, the lawlessness, the double standards and supporting human right abuses seem to be the tragic trend in some of those Administrations, whilst great Republican predecessors did live up to the standards of the US.

They didn’t.

As US President you are the civilian and elected US leader, but once in the White House some US Presidents meet the real challenges of getting agreement with the military leaders and those within the CIA. Reagan had nothing to do with the history George H.  Bush had with the CIA. Reagan had neither the most influential background contacts and powers Bush,sr had and Bush,sr played a most influential role in the Reagan Administration.

However the choices being made in the key persons of both the National Security team, the Director of the CIA and the Chief of the Military staff are vital for the integrity of any Administration as it can make the difference between “the ride of your life” or the ride of your death. Not only the death being meant literally as happened with JFK, but also “the death of your soul” if you are compromised through the most evil things being possible within the domain of power as US President. Those teams within Government to deal with, those people with different agenda’s, besides the politics of Party and the Nation is a huge challenge. Some do grow in such a challenge and become a real leader of people, some however are not more than bad managers in positions they should never have aimed for.

Illegal pre-election deals with other countries for own election benefit may however be considered as a touchstone of the character of this Administration and whether it came from Bush or Reagan does not make any difference. The fact was that it was approved by Reagan, against US interests. Despite the charming Reagan, his ability to make the impression of being trustworthy, – history may note marked reservations on the integrity of his leadership.

The fruitful relationship between him and Gorbachev and “the product” in terms of ending the cold war and “the Berlin wall”, was however a reflection of Reagan’s determination (against advise of his inner circles) to do eventually the right thing, and this was a blessing for the world. Like Gorbachev at the time was a blessing for the world.                                                                                                                      (Ronald Reagan: “Tear Down This Wall”)

Interestingly the Reagan letters leave in retrospect a remarkable insight on Ronald Reagan as a person, different from the US President who approved so many illegal operations.

As we know there are many background powers in Washington, and getting elected US President is one, getting your ideas across is two, but getting a new direction implemented without compromising yourself or your own conscience is a matter of character and courage, besides an intuitive talent to nominate the right persons in the right positions at the right time, apart from the choice of the Vice Presidency. All this either works in favour of the Administration or at the other end of the spectrum may profoundly works against the Administration with the US President being tangled up in various cover ups, the last being succesful depending on the buffers being created in the White House.

Without Bush at the background Reagan would not have survived his first term, which is not necessarily a compliment for G.W.Bush but more a reflection on his knowledge how to use the systems beneficially to keep the Republican for 12 years in the White House.                                                                                                                          (Bush, sr said Reagan helped the new world order)

Next chapter (part 8) will discuss former US President G.H Bush.

Thank you!

Paul Alexander Wolf

Profiles In US Presidential Violations of Justice – Front page (Part 1 of 11) on July 5, 2011

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