An old friend of the family is brought in to clear up the mess after Rummy and to restore confidence. But can he do it, if his credibility is
Blackmail & Bobby Gates
One risk of putting career intelligence officer Robert Gates in charge of the Defense Department is that he has a secret – and controversial –
history that might open him to pressure from foreign operatives, including some living in countries of U.S. military interest, such as Iran and
Put more crudely, the 63-year-old Gates could become the target of pressure or even blackmail unless some of the troubling questions about his past
are answered conclusively, not just cosmetically.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Gates benefited from half-hearted probes by the U.S. Congress and the Executive Branch into these mysteries. The investigators
– some of whom were Gates’s friends – acted as if their goal was more to sweep incriminating evidence under the rug than to expose the facts to
Did Gates participate in secret and possibly illegal contacts with Iranian leaders from the 1980 election campaign through the Iran-Contra scandal of
Did Gates oversee a clandestine pipeline of weapons and other military equipment to Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq starting in 1982?
The story goes as follows:
The secret arming of Iraq was approved by Ronald Reagan in June 1982 as part of a National Security Decision Directive. Under it, CIA Director William
Casey and his then-deputy, Robert Gates, "authorized, approved and assisted" delivery of cluster bombs and other materiel to Iraq.
In 1995 Teledyne Ind. went on trial for shipping explosives to Chilean arms dealer Carlos Cardoen, used to manufactured cluster bombs for Iraq. As
part of the defense former NSC aide Howard Teicher swore out an affidavit detailing Gates's secret role, supported by earlier public statements by
former Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe and Iranian-born businessman Richard Babayan.
To the chagrin of the Clinton administration he later filed his affidavit.
In 1995 President Bill Clinton’s Justice Department was trying to bury the so-called Iraqgate scandal with a report that found no evidence to
support allegations that the Reagan-Bush administration had illegally armed Saddam Hussein. So they classified Teicher's affidavit a secret.
When Teicher pointed toward relevant records in the files of Ronald Reagan, the Clinton lawyers insisted that they could find nothing to support
Teicher's claims. Instead they threatened with prosecution for revealing state secrets. Though this intimidation of a witness had the look of
prosecutorial misconduct – if not outright obstruction of justice – the tactics worked. Teicher backed away.
Determined to see no evil the Clinton lawyers didn’t even object to the fact revealed by the court case, that the CIA had been hiding evidence from
John M. Hogan, counselor to Attorney General Janet Reno wrote:
"I do not believe this uncertainty severely undermined our investigation".
Having blocked the testimony from Teicher and other witnesses who planned to describe the U.S. government’s Iraqgate secrets, the Clinton
administration won its prosecution of Teledyne.
Papers recovered from Iraqi government files after the U.S. invasion in 2003, could however shed light on the Cardoen arms pipeline, and a new Chilean
government might be willing to hand him over. He remains under indictment in the United States. Teicher and other witnesses could finally be given a
forum to testify under oath about what they know.
Other potential witnesses include Israeli intelligence officer Ben-Menashe.
In his 1992 book Profits of War, Ben-Menashe wrote that Israeli Mossad approached Gates in 1985 seeking help in shutting down unconventional
weapons moving through the arms pipeline to Iraq.
Ben-Menashe writes about a meeting in Chile in 1986 Gates attended and with Cardoen present where Gates tried to calm down the Israelis. Gates has
denied that the meeting occurred.
In press interviews Cardoen has insisted that American officials knew about and supported his weapons sales to Iraq in the 1980s. He said he was
targeted for punishment only after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 and U.S. officials scrambled to distance themselves from the covert policy of aiding
This took place at the time of the hostage crise with Iran, and they are connected.
In a secret 1993 report to the U.S. Congress, the Russian government claimed that its intelligence files listed Gates as participating in hostage
negotiations with Iranian officials in Paris in October 1980 behind President Jimmy Carter’s back.
At the time, Iran was holding 52 American hostages and Carter was desperately trying to secure their release before the November 1980 elections, what
became known as the October Surprise case.
Ben-Menashe, an Iraqi Jew who grew up in Iran, worked for Israeli military intelligence from 1977-87. He first fingered Gates as an operative in the
secret Iraq arms pipeline in August 1990 during an interview for PBS Frontline.
In the interview Ben-Menashe said Gates joined in a meeting in Paris between Republicans and senior Iranians in October 1980. Ben-Menashe also claims
he arranged Gates’s personal help in bringing a suitcase full of cash into Miami in early 1981 to pay off some of the participants in the hostage
gambit. Claims which Gates denies.
The Russian report confirms the meeting and that "former CIA Director George Bush also took part".
Gates claims in his memoir that the Senate Intelligence Committee knocked down the suspicions about him during the 1991 confirmation process for him
to become CIA director.
"The allegations of meetings with me around the world were easily disproved for the committee by my travel records, calendars, and countless
witnesses", Gates writes.
But none of Gates’s "countless witnesses" who could vouch for his whereabouts was ever identified. Essentially, the alibi comes down to Gates’s
Here we have a man with a shady past to become Secretary of Defense. If the ghosts of his closet is let loose, couldn't they interfer with his
Decisions that will shape the future of the United States of America eventually will be taken in his department.
The risk is they might be influenced by his past.