Daily Archives: January 7, 2017

Foreign Involvement in Reagan’s Election

The most egregious example of foreign involvement in elections was the Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini’s support for Reagan’s election over Carter.  

According to The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs:

… American journalists. Bob Woodward and Walter Pincus have reported in the Washington Post and Alfonso Chardy in the Miami Herald that three Reagan campaign aides met in a Washington DC hotel in early October, 1980, with a self-described “Iranian exile” who offered, on behalf of the Iranian government, to release the hostages to Reagan, not Carter, in order to ensure Carter’s defeat in the November 4, 1980 election.

… ‘We don’t have to worry about an October surprise’ a jubilant staffer at the [Reagan] campaign’s operations center (told Honegger). ‘Dick’s cut a deal.'”

“Dick” was Richard Allen, and the deal apparently was a promise of arms in return for a delay by Tehran in releasing the hostages. A few days after the conversation Honegger describes, another Reagan campaign official, future CIA director William Casey, was sufficiently confident to tell journalist Roland Perry on October 30 that if something happened to give Carter the election, “it won’t be the hostages.”

In return for the hostage release after his inauguration, Reagan reportedly promised Iran arms that would be provided by Israel, which also wanted to curry favor with the new Reagan administration, and of course Reagan also rewarded Iran with the infamous Iran-Contra deal, providing Iran with missiles it should not have gotten legally.

In Reagan’s case there are many allegations that his campaign conspired with the Iranian government not to release the hostages before the election so as to increase the chances of Reagan’s election.  In Trump’s case there is so far no indication that Trump conspired with Putin to defeat Hillary.  Whatever Putin did, he seems to have done it for his own reasons, not because he was requested to do so by Trump, making Putin’s actions much less egregious than Iran’s on behalf of Reagan.  Carter was too decent to put the US through the acrimonious sparring of the legality of the election like Obama and Hillary have done.  Gore also accepted his questionable defeat from the Supreme Court without throwing the country into a constitutional crisis.  Today’s Democrats are seeking a constitutional crisis by trying to use the intelligence community to invalidate Trump’s election.

Russian Intercepts

I am disappointed that the intelligence community has publicly stated that it is intercepting messages from high ranking Russian government officials, as reported by the Washington Post. I am surprised that the Director of National Intelligence and the Director of NSA would publicly disclose such sensitive sources. They must be very motivated to destroy Donald Trump if they are willing to give away the crown jewels of their intelligence in order to do so. These are men with an extreme political agenda, presumably motivated by their devotion to Barack Obama, rather than to the United States. If Trump is able to take office, he would fire them immediately for disloyalty to their country and disgracing their military uniform.

Politicizing the Intelligence Community

The idea that the American intelligence community is not political is unrealistic. Senior officials are appointed by the sitting President and owe him some kind of allegiance, although how much depends on the individuals involved. They are probably chosen because their political beliefs or inclinations are similar to those of other senior administration officials, particularly the President’s.

I saw this first hand when I was the State Department representative on a National Intelligence Estimate about the Soviet Union’s military technology (NIE 11-12) that began under the Carter administration and ended under the Reagan administration. Carter’s CIA chief, Adm. Stansfield Turner, was probably somewhat dovish, like Carter. Reagan replaced him with Bill Casey, an old hawkish OSS officer, who had been Reagan’s campaign.manager.

As work on the estimate began, the military representatives were very hawkish, wanting to include language that made the Soviets look like technological supermen who were developing high tech weapons that the US would be unable to counter. Although I was not a very senior participant, I began to push back against this, because I did not think the intelligence supported it. The Soviets were indeed working on high tech things that the US was not working on and that we did not understand completely, but that did not justify the conclusion that this research was going to result in weapons that would change the balance of forces between the US and the Soviet Union. As I began to push back, I found I had support from some of the CIA representatives, who were perhaps unwilling to lead the charge against the military reps. But around the time of the election, things changed. The Deputy Director of the CIA, Adm. Bobby Inman, abruptly quit, and of course, Casey replaced Turner. Under Casey, the hawkish views began to be a stronger theme in the NIE. Casey was famous for mumbling, and when I attended the final review of the NIE, chaired by Casey, I was never sure what he said. I would like to think that the NIE came out slightly less hawkish than it would have without my participation, but it’s hard to tell. I think my viewpoint has been supported by what has happened in the 35 years since the NIE. The Soviets or the Russians have still not defeated the US with some kind of high tech doomsday machine.

In any case, the fact that Reagan’s campaign manager took over the CIA illustrates that the CIA is not an apolitical organization. Like the Supreme Court, the CIA reads the newspapers (and a lot of other stuff). Brennan and Clapper are not that political, but as such senior officials they are part of the intense political machinations that make Washington what it is.