Here's What a Real Political Cover-up Looks Like -- Orchestrated by the Right-Wingers Who Know It Best
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For instance, Iran-Contra special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh discovered in December 1992 that Bush’s White House counsel’s office, under Boyden Gray, also had delayed production of Bush’s personal notes about the arms shipments to Iran in the 1985-86 time frame.
Though Gray’s office insisted that the delay was unintentional, Walsh didn’t buy it. After all, one of Bush’s s Iran-Contra diary entries, dated July 20, 1987, described then-Secretary of State George Shultz’s detailed notes on meetings with Reagan. In the Iran-Contra report, Walsh wrote that Bush’s phrasing about Shultz’s notes suggested that the withholding of Bush’s own documents was willful.
“I found this almost inconceivable,” Bush wrote about Shultz. “Not only that he kept the notes, but that he’d turned them all over to Congress. … I would never do it. I would never surrender such documents.” Following those sentiments, Bush’s White House sought to frustrate not just Iran-Contra investigators but those assigned to examine the October Surprise issue.
Rather than any commitment to openness regarding the October Surprise case, the documents reveal a cat-and-mouse game designed to block pursuit of the truth. Beyond dragging its heels on producing documents, the Bush administration maneuvered to keep key witnesses out of timely reach of the investigators. For instance, Gregg used his stationing as U.S. Ambassador to South Korea in 1992 to evade a congressional subpoena.
Like Gates and Bush, Gregg had been linked to secret meetings with Iranians during the 1980 campaign. When asked about those allegations by FBI polygraph operators working for Iran-Contra prosecutor Walsh, Gregg was judged to be deceptive in his denials. [See Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Contra Matters, Vol. I, p. 501]
And, when it came to answering questions from Congress about the October Surprise matter, Gregg found excuses not to accept service of a subpoena.
In a June 18, 1992, cable from the U.S. Embassy in Seoul to the State Department in Washington, Gregg wrote that he had learned that Senate investigators had “attempted to subpoena me to appear on 24 June in connection with their so-called ‘October Surprise’ investigation. The subpoena was sent to my lawyer, Judah Best, who returned it to the committee since he had no authority to accept service of a subpoena. …
“If the October Surprise investigation contacts the [State] Department, I request that you tell them of my intention to cooperate fully when I return to the States, probably in September. Any other inquiries should be referred to my lawyer, Judah Best. Mr. Best asks that I specifically request you not to accept service of a subpoena if the committee attempts to deliver one to you.”
That way Gregg ensured that he was not legally compelled to testify while running out the clock on the Senate inquiry and leaving little time for the House Task Force. His strategy of delay was endorsed by Janet Rehnquist after a meeting with Best and a State Department lawyer.
In a June 24, 1992, letter to Gray, Rehnquist wrote that “at your direction, I have looked into whether Don Gregg should return to Washington to testify before the Senate Subcommittee hearings next week. … I believe we shouldNOT request that Gregg testify next week.”
The failure to effect service of the subpoena gave the Bush team an advantage, Rehnquist noted, because the Senate investigators then relented and merely “submitted written questions to Gregg, through counsel, in lieu of an appearance. …. This development provides us an opportunity to manage Gregg’s participation in October Surprise long distance.”
Rehnquist added hopefully that by the end of September 1992 “the issue may, by that time, even be dead for all practical purposes.”