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The Tally Ho

Friday, July 23, 2004

Blumenthal Op-Ed in Guardian

I don't know if who else reads the Guardian, but yesterday Sidney Blumenthal had a good piece on Sen. Kerry, Kerry's war didn't end in the Mekong. I remember reading an article on Boston.com about when Kerry first came to the Senate. He was offered a seat on the much sought after appropriations committee, but chose Foreign Relations. Blumenthal writes:
In his first month as a senator, in January 1985, he discovered the thread that would unravel the Iran-contra scandal - the creation of an illegal foreign policy apparatus run out of the national security council by Reagan's military aide, Oliver North, and the CIA director, William Casey. Kerry had the training and instincts of a prosecutor. As a district attorney in Massachusetts, he smashed the local mafia. Now, as senator, he has surrounded himself with tough investigators. In south Florida, they found men accused of drug-running who were shipping guns to the Nicaraguan contras and claiming to be instructed by the NSC. They tracked down a contra adviser in Costa Rica known as "Colonel Flaco", who had evidence that North was involved in financing the contras with Colombian drug money. The path led further, to Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega and to Saudi funding sources. Kerry won support from Republicans on the Senate foreign relations committee to launch an official investigation, in large part because of the drug aspect. (Concerned about heroin addiction among Vietnam veterans, Kerry had followed the geopolitics of drugs.)

North learned of Kerry's work and told the Secret Service and the FBI that Kerry was protecting a possible presidential assassin. The FBI harassed "Flaco" and determined he was no threat, but he was intimidated into silence. Republican staffers leaked information about Kerry's investigation to the Reagan White House and justice department. An assistant US attorney in Florida, prosecuting a case based on Kerry's leads, was ordered by the justice department to drop the matter. Virtually the entire Washington press corps dismissed Kerry's effort as a fantastic delusion and ignored it.

In October 1986, Kerry questioned the neoconservative assistant secretary of state for Latin America, Elliot Abrams, who brazenly lied about foreign funding for the contras. This testimony led, in time, to Abrams pleading guilty to a felony. (He was pardoned by Bush Snr and is now NSC chief for Middle East policy.)

A month later, the Iran-contra story broke in a Lebanese newspaper. However, Kerry was excluded from the congressional investigating committee for the sin of having been prematurely right. As consolation, he was given chairmanship of the subcommittee on terrorism, narcotics and international operations. After three years, he reported that "individuals who provided support for the contras were involved in drug trafficking; the supply network of the contras was used by drug trafficking organisations; and elements of the contras received financial and material assistance from drug traffickers. In each case, one or another agency of the US government had information regarding the involvement, either while it was occurring, or immediately thereafter."

There are a few more paragraphs in that piece, but one gets the point. Over the years everything that I have read about Kerry is that he asks questions and digs for answers. Contrasted that to what we seemingly have now which is choosing what we want to do, then justify it...


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