With the Democrats and Democratic Party voters euphoric over a purported election victory, and a possible “change of course” in Iraq, the Bush administration quietly added poison to the Democrats’ celebration champagne by dredging up former CIA Director and Iran-Contra participant Robert Gates to replace Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary.
The “war on terrorism” will not only continue, it will expand and deepen with Gates heading the Pentagon.
Who is Robert Gates?
Robert M. Gates was the CIA’s Deputy Director for Intelligence (DDI) from 1982 to 1986. He became CIA Deputy Director of Central Intelligence (DDCI) in 1986, and moved up to Acting Director of Central Intelligence (ADCI) that same year. In 1991, George H.W. Bush nominated Gates to head the CIA (as Langley’s DCI).
As a protégé of the infamous William Casey, and as both deputy director and director of the CIA, it goes without saying that Robert Gates was involved in every geopolitical crime and cover-up of the Reagan-Bush and George H.W. Bush era.
The encyclopedic list includes Iran-Contra, CIA narcotics trafficking, criminal covert operations, the infamous October Surprise, and the Bank of Credit and Commerce (BCCI) scandal.
Gates, Iran-Contra, and CIA drug trafficking
During the George H.W. Bush administration, with the Iran-Contra crimes still fresh, Gates survived the confirmation hearings (from a much fiercer Washington Congress) that elevated him to director of Central Intelligence. He was tarnished, but survived, the hobbled and corrupted Lawrence Walsh probe of Iran-Contra, which left the vast majority of Iran-Contra crimes unaddressed.
Despite its limitations, the Walsh probe managed to expose and tarnish many of the operation’s players, and resulted in convictions for several participants (and, soon afterwards, pardoned by George H.W. Bush), one of them being Gates.
Robert Gates, like many Reagan-Bush era players, has a lot to answer for.
Subsequent research documents the fact that the CIA, National Security Council (NSC), and branches of the US military engaged in a host of massive narcotics trafficking operations, the most noteworthy of which were named Amadeus, Watch Tower, and Pegasus.
These operations, combined with related operations and geopolitical programs, comprise what is popularly known as “Iran-Contra.”
Robert Gates was there for it all.
Gates is one of many officials implicated in detailed histories of the Iran-Contra period, and in CIA documents and reports, including the 1998 CIA Inspector General’s Report into Contra Drug Trafficking. Gates’ name surfaces in the Cutolo Affadavit (attributed to Army Colonel and CIA operative Ed Cutolo, the supervisor of Operation Watch Tower, but likely penned by Cutolo’s associates, but thoroughly corroborated by whistleblowers and researchers).
According to Rodney Stich, author of Defrauding America, each operation “had basically the same characters involved . . . with Edwin Wilson . . . Robert Gates and William J. Casey . . .”
Despite being “in the loop,” Gates has routinely denied his guilt over the years, but proof of his active role cannot be hidden. As acting DCI, Gates issued a memo that was tantamount to ordering a cover-up.
According to Mike Ruppert of From The Wilderness, a long-time whistleblower and chronicler of the CIA’s narcotics crimes: “On April 9, 1987, Acting DCI Robert Gates sent a memorandum to the Deputy Director of Operations (DDO) Clair George stating it was imperative that CIA avoid involvement with individuals tied to the Contra program who were ‘even suspected of involvement in narcotics trafficking.’ The Gates memorandum instructed the DDO to vet contract air crews, air service companies and subcontractors with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), US Customs and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to ensure that the Agency would not be involved in any way with individuals suspected of being involved with drug trafficking.”
In other words, cover up the extensive network in place, cut off relationships with assets, eliminate troublesome operatives, and create plausible denial.
How in-the-loop was Gates?
Retired US Navy Lt. Commander and ONI officer Al Martin, a participant in the Iran-Contra operations, authored The Conspirators: Secrets of an Iran-Contra Insider. In this book, Martin hangs the entire Bush apparatus out to dry, and details the many Iran-Contra-related criminal operations.
According to Martin, Gates was high-level.
“In terms of policy management, (William) Casey formed a series of inter-governmental agency Restricted Access Groups (RAGs). Ultimately three such groups were formed. The top Restricted Access Group 1 was Vice President George Bush — as it was decided that all narcotics, weapons and money operations vis-à-vis Iran-Contra, would be consolidated under the office of the Vice President.
“Also included in these Restricted Access Groups were then Vice Presidential National Security Advisor, Colonel Donald Gregg, then Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger and Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams, who was in charge of the Inter-American Affairs Office (an office which served in no other capacity except being a propaganda tool for the Nicaraguan Contras), Richard Armitage, and Assistant Secretary of State, Bernie Aronson.
“In the Department of Defense, the RAG group included Assistant Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci, Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Stillwell, and Caspar Weinberger himself.
“In the CIA, besides Casey, there was the infamous Deputy Director of Operations, Clair George, and Assistant Deputy Director of Operations, Alan Fiers.
“The names involved in the Restricted Access Group would change as these men changed positions in government from 1983 through 1986.
“When Frank Carlucci left the Defense Department to become Presidential National Security Advisor and Bobby Gates became Deputy Director of the CIA, Gates supplanted Carlucci within Restricted Access Group 2.”
Gates, according to Martin, was elevated to Group 1 status upon being confirmed as Director of Central Intelligence.
Gates and assassinations
According to Stich, Robert Hunt, former Navy SEAL commander and deep-cover CIA/ONI operative, described to him a CIA assassination squad called Operation Ringwind.
This operation, according to Hunt, was under the control of then-Deputy Director of the CIA Robert Gates.
“They call it Operation Ringwind, formed in early 1981. It was strictly to take care of all participants in October Surprise until they decide to shut the operation down. And that could be tomorrow morning, or ten years from now. Whoever they think is involved.”
Iran and the Bushes
According to Robert Parry, “the American people today should know the real history of US-Iran relations before the Bush administration launches another preemptive war in the Middle East.”
This history, which covers Gates’ long tenure at the CIA, “includes the facts regarding Republican contacts with Iran’s Islamic regime more than a quarter of a century ago — relevant today because an underlying theme in Bush’s rationale for war is that direct negotiations with Iran are pointless. But Bush’s own father may know otherwise.”
The Bushes and the Truth about Iran (Robert Parry)
It is no coincidence that Iran veteran Gates comes to the Bush administration as the US prepares for operations against Iran.
Gates and BCCI cover-up
The Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) was the CIA’s legendary drug bank and money laundering nexus.
In Defrauding America, Stich writes, “CIA Deputy Director Robert Gates stated in 1988 to the head of Customs, William von Raab, that BCCI stood for the ‘Bank of Crooks and Criminals International.’ But the CIA continued to deposit and launder funds in BCCI, covering up the criminal activities that would defraud people all over the world who had put their money into the bank.
“In the 1980s, US Customs Commissioner William von Raab unsuccessfully tried to get the Justice Department to act on the serious federal violations committed by BCCI.
“Raab testified to Senate investigators that in 1988 he told CIA Deputy Director Robert Gates of the drug money laundering at BCCI, and that Gates refused to proceed with the information.”
A tactical move
The Rumsfeld resignation is not a sign of desperation or surrender in response to Democratic Party heat. It was a long-planned tactical move that strengthens the Bush administration’s inner circle, while slapping the political opposition in the face.
By replacing the criminally insane Rumsfeld with the Bush-Reagan era insider Gates, the Bush administration (and Karl Rove) seeks to accomplish three objectives.
It puts another Iran-Contra criminal and military-intelligence criminal veteran into the cabinet, atop the Pentagon and America’s war machine — ensuring the expansion, penetration and successful execution of the “war on terrorism” into the rest of the Middle East and Iran (which William Casey protégé Gates got to know intimately, as CIA official during the administrations of Reagan-Bush, and George H.W. Bush ).
Gates joins other Iran-Contra criminals, such as Elliott Abrams and John Negroponte, at the controls of power. The military brass had serious problems with the peevish Rumsfeld. It may not have these issues with the savvier (and, for the world, more dangerous) Gates.
It removes any chance, any relevance, to any hopes that leading Democrats had about dragging Rumsfeld, already a political liability for Bush, into hearings regarding the management of the Iraq war. The entire Iraq debate, which the Democrats had hoped would swirl around a sitting Rumsfeld, flies away with a new Gates Pentagon.
Gates, who had relatively few problems with Democrats in the past, is likely to meet little resistance from weak Democrats engaged in “bipartisanship.” There is little chance that the Democrats are likely to bring up past history.
Other Iran-Contra participants have received similar red carpet treatments from Congress since 2000.
The Bush administration has done what it has always done: replace a political liability with something even more dangerous, a loyal insider to the very highest positions of authority. The move adds insult to six years of injury, an openly provocative act that dares the perplexed Democrats to do anything to stop it, knowing that they will not.
If Robert Gates does with his new Pentagon power what he did at the CIA during his previous tenure, the world is in for tremendous suffering and death, and more covert and overt warfare — all well-“managed,” packaged and sold to Congress. Gates, unlike the divisive Rumsfeld, is a criminal who is capable of uniting the elite consensus.