12/23/2004: A fascinating take on Iran-Contra
Slate recently ran an interview with ADM Bobby Ray Inman, USN (Ret.), former director of the National Security Agency and of Naval Intelligence, and former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence and vice director of the Defense Intelligence Agency--in other words, pretty much the insider's insider, when it comes to intelligence matters in the 1970s and 80s. I was fascinated by the whole thing, but in particular this passage, where Inman pretty well exonerates George H.W. Bush of direct complicity in the Iran-Contra scandal. Earlier in the interview, Inman (who was Deputy Director of Central Intelligence at the time) points out that former Director of Central Intelligence William Casey pretty much detested the elder Bush, and then related a time that Inman pulled an end run around Casey to invite Bush (a former DCI himself) to preside at the swearing-in of Inman's successor as Deputy DCI, an act that Casey did not approve of (Casey, according to Inman, actually tried to pressure Inman to rescind the invitation). Then we reach this fascinating passage:
Slate: Let's talk about Iran-Contra. I think it's generally agreed that Bush was pretty much the point man in the administration and in that venture.
Inman: In the Iran-Contra? Absolutely false. He was cut out of it, totally.
Slate: I've interviewed people like Luis Posada and the Felix Rodriguez crowd down there in the field and they were quite convinced that Bush had full knowledge of events.... Felix Rodriguez actually had a meeting with Bush in Washington.
Inman: I would lay you high odds that Bill Casey was Ollie North's case officer. That he knew everything Ollie North was doing. And Bush would have been, by Casey's preference, totally cut out of it.
Slate: So this idea that Oliver North was this adventurer running amok with no supervision...
Inman: I don't believe it for a moment. Bill Casey knew everything he was doing.
Slate: And approved it?
Slate: And was basically having North do his bidding?
Inman: Yes. See the Dunn legislation had said, "No agency or department may use funds to support the Contras." But it didn't say anything about staff. Casey made his fortune writing books on how to avoid paying taxes. And his whole view--we got into many quarrels over it--his whole view was that anything not specifically excluded by law is permissible. And it just fits.
Len on 12.23.04 @ 09:50 AM CST