GOP Chutzpah on Iran
Apparently hoping to embarrass President Clinton in an election
year, the Republican-controlled House approved a special
investigation into his "green light" for Iran to ship arms to
Bosnia's embattled Muslims in 1994. The 225-203 vote, largely
along party lines, was expected.
But what was striking was how the Republicans framed the
inquiry. Over and over, they justified the new probe by making
allusions to the 1992 investigation into the so-called October
Surprise case -- the long-standing charge that the 1980
Reagan-Bush campaign sabotaged President Carter's negotiations
to free 52 American hostages then held in Iran. Carter's
failure to gain the hostages' freedom assured Ronald Reagan's
In pressing for a special task force to conduct the Bosnia
inquiry, Republicans acted as if the Democrats had aggressively
pursued the October Surprise investigation for political gain in
1992. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
The Democrats, led by the accommodating Rep. Lee Hamilton,
D-Ind., let the inquiry be run by former Reagan-Bush attorneys.
The chief investigator, E. Lawrence Barcella Jr., also was both
the lawyer for the corrupt Bank of Credit and Commerce
International (which was implicated in the October Surprise
case) and a law partner of former Sen. Paul Laxalt, R-Nev., who
was chairman of the 1980 Reagan-Bush campaign.
As we now know from documents recovered from the 1992
investigation, the Barcella team "debunked" the October Surprise
charges by adopting bogus alibis for Reagan's campaign director,
William J. Casey, and by concealing reams of incriminating
evidence. (For details, see The October Surprise X-Files: The
Hidden Origins of the Reagan-Bush Era.)
Unlike the timid Democrats, however, the hard-nosed Republicans
are not likely to accept the see-no-evil approach that Hamilton
did. The Republicans approved nearly $1 million so they could
dig deep into the Iran-Bosnia case, subpoena records and compel
testimony by Clinton administration officials, who are already
drained of patience and cash by the Whitewater hearings.
On May 8, at a key moment in the Iran-Bosnia debate before the
House International Relations Committee, the panel's Democrats
walked out to deny the Republicans the quorum they needed to
grant themselves subpoena power. Only one Democrat, Lee
Hamilton, sat with the Republicans and gave them the necessary
number of congressmen present to approve the subpoena motion.
Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., who served on the Iran-contra
investigation and found no wrongdoing in that scandal, will
direct the House probe into the Iran-Bosnia case. Hyde also was
the ranking Republican on the October Surprise task force.
A smart politician, Hyde announced that he wants Hamilton, the
Republicans' favorite Democrat, to serve as the ranking minority
member of the Iran-Bosnia task force.
Robert Parry, Editor of The Consortium
(c) Copyright 1996 -- Please Do Not Re-Post
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