The following is an excellent excerpt from the book “VEIL: The Secret Wars of the CIA 1981-1987” by Bob Woodward from Chapter 25 from page 497 and I quote: “[Ed] Meese had made an early appointment with [Oliver] North for the next day, Sunday, but North asked that it be postponed until 2 P.M. So that he could go to church with his family. North called [Bud] McFarlane and asked to meet him at 12:30 P.M. At an office McFarlane had at the Old Executive Office Building. They talked for fifteen minutes. North said he was going to have to lay the facts out for Meese about the diversion of Iran arms sale money to the contras. As McFarlane knew, North would not do anything that was not approved. In this case, it was a matter of record: there was a memo that North had done for [John] Poindexter.
AT 2 P.M., Meese arrived with his two assistants.
North said yes, money had been diverted,; three accounts had been opened in Switzerland and the numbers given to the Israelis. The money had been deposited in those accounts, and the contras were appreciative. About $3 -$4 million from one arms sale had gone in that direction. The $12 million mentioned in the memo, North said, was not U.S. money and it was not Israeli money. It had sounded fine to him.
“Did you find a cover memo?” North asked.
“Should we have?” inquired Meese.
“No, I just wondered.”
Casey, meanwhile, wrote a classified letter to the President suggesting that [George] Shultz be fired. Using the baseball terminology Shultz had used the previous week for Poindexter as “designated hitter,” Casey said that at State the President needed a new “pitcher.”
On Monday at 11 A.M., Meese explained to the President and Don Regan that he had uncovered a diversion of money to the contras. Meese went to see Poindexter in the national-security adviser’s office. “I assume you’re aware of the memo we found in Ollie’s files.” Poindexter said he knew and realized that he would probably have to resign.
Before lunch, Poindexter found a computer note from North. “There is that old line about you can’t fire me, I quit. . . I am prepared to depart at the time you and the President decide . . . . We nearly succeeded. Semper fidelis. Oliver North.”
“Thanks, Ollie,” Poindexter typed. “I have talked to Ed twice today on this and he is still trying to figure out what to do. I have told him I am prepared to resign. I told him I would take the cue from him. He is one of the few besides the President that I can trust. If we don’t leave, what would you think about going out to CIA and being a special assistant to Bill? This would put you in the operational world officially. Don’t say anything to Bill yet. I just want to get your reaction.”
During a photo session at the White House, the President was asked whether he should have acknowledged mistakes in the Iran arms shipments. “I’m not going to lie about that. I didn’t make a mistake,” he replied. Pressed about others, he said, “I’m not going to fire anybody.”
Casey had [Roy] Furmark out to Langley and attempted to learn about the money used in the Iran operation. He called North.
“There’s a man here who says you owe him $10 million,” the DCI said.
North said there was only $30,000 left in the Swiss account. “Tell him the Iranians or Israelis owe him the money,” North said.
Casey tried to reach Meese and failed. He tried Don Regan and left a message saying he urgently needed to talk to the Chief of Staff. It could not wait. Regan agreed to stop by Langley on his way home for dinner. Up on the seventh floor, Casey betrayed little, and with hardly a facial reaction asked what was going on, what was on the President’s mind.
Regan blurted out that a diversion of funds to the contras had been discovered.
“What are you going to do about it?” Casey asked. He was stolid, unreadable.
All along, Regan continued, he had thought the arms transactions with Iran were, as they used to say on Wall Street, NPH, “No Profit Here.” Given the information about the diversion, the plan was to make it all public the next day.
“Well, do you realize the consequences?” Casey asked sharply, and then ticked off the impact of such a disclosure. “You’re going to blow the whole Iranian thing, and possibly blow the lives of these hostages.” Iran would be enraged at being overcharged for the arms. Congress would be beside itself, uncontrollable, and would likely cut off the contra funding, the DCI said.
“Be that as it may,” Regan replied. “How the hell can we sit on this stuff any longer? I mean this thing is an absolute disgrace. . . . We have this possible criminal act.”
“I hope you realize that, you know, this is going to cause quite a few upsets and it’s going to be a major story,” Casey replied.
Regan indicated that irrevocable decisions had been made: there was no turning back, no choice.
Casey was late for dinner at the Metropolitan Club, where he was to meet Bernadette, his daughter, and Edward Hymoff, an OSS veteran and writer who wanted to write Casey’s biography. They had a handshake agreement that Casey would provide access to the CIA and to senior Administration figures, including the President.
When Casey arrived at the club, Hymoff, Bernadette and her husband were waiting. Aware of the current flap, Hymoff said, “You know the shit is going to hit the fan.”
“We can handle it,” Casey said confidently, and turned to the proposed book. He was staying until the end of the President’s term, but he would work something out so that Humoff could spend the last six months of 1988 at the agency gathering information. Until then, they should focus on the rest of his life—OSS, investor, author and the SEC. He was anxious to get going. He was going to spend the Christmas holidays at his Palm Beach house, and they agreed that Humoff could come and tape some interviews.
“Bill, what are you going to do after the Administration?”
“I’m not going back to lawyering,” Casey said, “but venture capital.” Government had again convinced him that a small private enterprise could move faster, better. He also said that he was thinking of doing his autobiography.
“Daddy,” Bernadette said, “you must do a book.”
At 6:30 A.M. The next day, Tuesday, November 25, Casey called Meese and asked him to stop by on his way to work. The Attorney General’s car pulled up at Foxhall Crescents at 7 A.M. Casey wanted to know what was going on.
Meese explained: Poindexter is going, it’s all going to be announced.
Casey said he would pull all the memos together and send them to Meese.
Next Meese reached Poindexter’s car by phone and asked that the Admiral meet him at the Justice Department. Once Poindexter arrived, the Attorney General had one message: “You should resign today.” Meese volunteered that he didn’t think North had done anything illegal.
Poindexter went back to his West Wing office and ordered breakfast brought to him on a tray. He sat at the end of his conference table and calmly told his military aide, Commander Thompson, that he would be requesting reassignment in the Navy that day. There were no jitters, no flash of emotion, no doubt. Thompson later said, “Of all the people in the world who might have to take a fall, the Admiral was probably the most qualified in history.”
Don Regan soon arrived in Poindexter’s office. He was on fire. “What the hell happened here?”
Poindexter adjusted his trifocals, dabbed at his mouth with his napkin, and put it aside. “Well,” he said, “I guess I should have looked into it more, but I didn’t. I knew that Ollie was up to something. I just didn’t look into it.”
“Why not?” Reagan demanded,. “What the hell. You’re a Vice Admiral. What’s going on?”
“That damn Tip O’Neill,” Poindexter said, “the way he’s jerking the contras around. I was just so disgusted.”
“Well, John, I think when you go see the President at 9:30, you better make sure you have your resignation with you.”
[Footnote: Eight months later Poindexter testified under oath that he thought North’s contra diversion scheme was a good idea and that he approved it but never informed or sought the approval of the President. Since 1981 the President’s policy of aiding the contras had not changed, Poindexter testified. He said that a diversion of Iranian arms sales profits to the contras would be similar to third country support. Instead of the Saudis giving, it would be the Iranians, or it could be considered a private Iranian contribution. This was a matter of implementing the President’s known policy. Poindexter claimed he felt he had the authority to approve the diversion, that he knew it would be politically explosive and that his job was to deliberately insulate the President from the decision. “On this whole issue, “ he testified, “you know the buck stops here with me.” He said that the President would have “absolutely” approved of the decision and would have enjoyed knowing about it, but that Poindexter’s plan of total deniability required that it never be mentioned to Reagan, tempted as Poindexter was on several occasions. North’s secretary, Fawn Hall, testified under a grant of full immunity that the one diversion memo that Meese’s investigators had discovered had been revised by Poindexter at one point, suggesting that it was intended to be forwarded to the President. North testified that, in total, he prepared five memos that referred to the contra diversion for Poindexter to forward to the President, but that he believed he had shredded them. Poindexter testified that he did not recall these other memos. When the detailed financial records were finally deciphered, investigators established that only about $3 million eventually reached the contras from all the Iranian arms sales profits, and an excess of $8 million remained in various bank accounts in Switzerland.]
At Langley, Casey called for Charlie Allen. Where was the goddamn month-old memo he had sent to Poindexter about the possible diversion of money? They found it, in Casey’s in-box. Nearly hysterical, Casey drafted an immediate top-secret, “Dear Ed” letter to Meese explaining what had happened: he and Gates had told Poindexter several times about these allegations, had given him a memo in mid-October, but the memo that laid out the possible diversion most starkly had somehow, inexp.licably, never gone forward to the White House.
That morning the president gave the congressional leaders an early warning about the diversion. They were called to the White House and the President told them that Poindexter was “not a participant,” but had volunteered his resignation in accordance with Navy tradition which held that the skipper is responsible for everything that happens in his command. Reagan defended his National Security Council system and said it had “served this country well.”
“Without condoning,” the diversion scheme, the President said, “it wasn’t contrary to policy.”
At a noon press conference, the President read a brief statement and introduced Meese, who announced that between $10 million and $30 million had been diverted to the contras. Shaken and grim, the President said he had not known earlier. He announced that Poindexter had resigned, and that North had been fired.
Later that day, Fawn Hall smuggled a half-inch-thick stack of documents from North’s office by concealing them in her clothes and boots. She took them to North and said their defense would be “We shred every day.” In the evening a security officer sealed the office.
The next day, I reached Casey on the telephone to ask how the Administration had got into the arms sales to Iran.
“The Israelis, in ’81, were telling us to work with the Iranians, for the purpose of getting close to the military,” Casey said. “It seemed credible to us, based on the future, post-Khomeini era.”
Why were there profits that could be diverted to the contras?
“Iran was willing to pay more,” he said, and suggested that any “illegality” found would be on the part of others.
He paused. “Poindexter just got caught.”
Did you know about the diversion to the contras?
“The law said I had to stay away,” he said, reiterating what Meese had said at his press conference, that no one at the CIA knew, including the Director.
The contras are your boys, you must have had a clue that they were getting $10 million to $30 million?
“Gossip,” he snapped. “I learned yesterday of it for sure from Meese.”
You didn’t know what North was doing?
“Goddammit—no one will go to jail . . . inside the Beltway.” He hung up.”
(THIS WHOLE IRAN-CONTRA ARMS FOR HOSTAGES DEAL TOOK PLACE WHEN RONALD REAGAN GOT ELECTED PRESIDENT. IT TOOK PLACE IN A BOOK CONSISTING OF OVER 500 PAGES WRITTEN BY BOB WOODWARD TITLED “VEIL: THE SECRET WARS OF THE CIA 1981-1987.” IT MOST LIKELY GOT PRESIDENT REAGAN ELECTED BECAUSE IT MADE PRESIDENT CARTER LOOK BAD BECAUSE THE IRANIANS DIDN’T RELEASE THE HOSTAGES UNTIL PRESIDENT REAGAN TOOKOFFICE ON JANUARY 20, 1981. THE MESSY DETAILS DIDN’T GET DISCOVERED UNTIL RONALD REAGAN’S SECOND TERM AND THEY CAUGHT OLIVER NORTH AND HIS SECRETARY FAWN HALL SHREDDING DOCUMENTS TO COVER-UP WHAT REALLY TOOK PLACE, WHICH WAS SELLING ARMS TO THE ENEMY SECRETLY IN EXCHANGE FOR HOSTAGES TO MAKE PRESIDENT REAGAN LOOK GOOD SO HE’D GET ELECTED. WHO KNOWS WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER WOULD HAVE BEEN ELECTED FOR A SECOND TERM. TOO BAD THE MEDIA COULDN’T KEEP UP WITH ALL THE DEVIOUS SCHEMES IN HOW RULERS OF COUNTIES ARE ELECTED TO OFFICE OR TAKEN OVER BY GENERALS FORMING A MILITARY DICTATORSHIP. MOST OF THE TIME, PROMOTED BY RICH INDIVIDUALS AND CORPORATIONS, FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE WEALTHY. VIVIDLY DESCRIBED IN ANOTHER BOOK “PLUTOCRAT: THE RISE OF THE NEW GLOBAL SUPER-RICH AND THE FALL OF EVERYONE ELSE” BY CHRYSTIA FREELAND.
LaVern Isely, Overtaxed Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen and AARP Members