Melania Trump reveals she is Catholic: The First Lady shares her faith with the world after meeting the Pope as the first Catholic to live in White House since JFK

Daily Mail

When

Melania Trump recited The Lord’s Prayer before a Melbourne, Florida presidential rally in February, the Internet went hog wild.

Now we know one reason why the first lady began with ‘Let us pray’ and ‘Our Father who art in heaven‘ when she introduced the president that evening: She’s a practicing Roman Catholic.

Her spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham confirmed that to DailyMail.com on Wednesday, hours after Pope Francis blessed a rosary for her at the Vatican.

The last Catholics to live in the White House were John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie. Melania and her son Barron will move to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue over the summer.

Mrs. Trump did more than just show up for a Papal audience.

She spent time in prayer at the Vatican-affiliated Bambino Gesù (Baby Jesus) Hospital, and laid flowers at the feet of a statue of the Madonna.

She also prayed in the hospital chapel and read to a young Greek boy in need of a donor heart – holding his hand in the Intensive Care Unit while camera shutters snapped.

The almighty may have heard her.

‘Upon landing in Belgium, I learned a young boy and his family who had been waiting for a heart transplant was informed that the hospital has found a donor,’ she said in a statement.

‘I read a book and held hands with this special little one just a few hours ago, and now my own heart is filled with joy over this news.’

The first lady later tweeted about the development with the hashtags ‘#Blessings’ and ‘#Faith.’

In another tweet, she sent ‘blessings to all’ after her Papal audience.

Mrs. Trump told Pope Francis at the Vatican that she was looking forward to going to the hospital ‘for the bambinos.’ She later called the visit ‘very moving.’

‘To spend time speaking to and coloring with children who have such a positive spirit despite illness was an amazing gift,’ she said.

‘The time I spent with the little ones in the Intensive Care Unit is something I will never forget, and I will pray for each of them daily.’

It’s unclear when Mrs. Trump became a Catholic. The president is a life-long Presbyterian, and they were married in a Florida Episcopal church.

Growing up as the daughter of a Communist Party member in rural Slovenia, her family maintained the outward appearances of being atheists, according to people in her childhood village of Sevnica who spoke to DailyMail.com in late 2015.

Accordingly, Melania and her sister were not baptized and did not make their First Holy Communion with other children their age.

It’s still not clear when Mrs. Trump was baptized into the Catholic faith. Grisham did not immediately respond to a question about that detail.

But the Trumps have been in a reflective religious mood since arriving in Saudi Arabia last Saturday. That frame of mind persisted throughout their time in Israel.

The president addressed 55 world leaders from Arab and other Muslim-majority nations in Riyadh, imploring them to be part of ‘a coalition of nations who share the aim of stamping out extremism and providing our children a hopeful future that does honor to God.’

In Jerusalem he visited the famed Western Wall, slipping a written prayer between the centuries-old stones as custom permits.

He ‘marveled at the monument to God’s presence and man’s perseverance,’ he said Tuesday in a speech at the Israel Museum.

‘I was humbled to place my hand upon the wall and to pray in that holy space for wisdom from God,’ Trump told an audience of Jewish officials.

‘This city, like no other place in the world, reveals the longing of the human heart – to know and worship God.’

Trump issued a proclamation on Wednesday calling for a national ‘day of prayer for permanent peace’ on May 29, the upcoming Memorial Day holiday.

‘On this ceremonious day, we remember the fallen, we pray for a lasting peace among nations, and we honor these guardians of our inalienable rights,’ he said.

‘I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11:00 a.m. of that day as a time when people might unite in prayer. I urge the press, radio, television, and all other information media to cooperate in this observance,’ Trump added.




Trump’s rhetoric on Islam takes significant steps in a Catholic direction

Charles C. Camosy
CRUX

The things Donald Trump said about Islam and Muslims during the 2016 presidential campaign cycle are likely still fresh in our minds.

He rarely missed a chance to link Muslims to terrorism by using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism,” regularly calling out his political opponents for not using these words. In an interview with CNN he baldly stated, “Islam hates us” and that “it’s very hard” to separate extremists from peaceful Muslims. And who could forget his infamous call for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslim immigration to the United States.

Trump’s campaign, led by the vision of Steve Bannon, operated with the assumption that that there is a “clash of civilizations” between Islam and the contemporary “Judeo-Christian West.” (Alarmingly, this is precisely the narrative being driven by ISIS and Al-Quaeda.) Bannon’s view was backed by influential campaign operatives like Michael Flynn and Stephen Miller.

Flynn has since been fired for lying about his sketchy contacts with Russia (which are now a primary focus of multiple counter-intelligence and criminal investigations), but Miller remains the “Senior Policy Advisor” for the President. Indeed, Miller reportedly wrote the big speech Trump gave in Saudi Arabia today.

The term “Islamophobia” is thrown around quite a bit, but in Miller’s case, the shoe appears to fit. Miller, for instance, was the first national coordinator of the “Terrorism Awareness Project” which has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-Muslim hate group. Miller was also the primary drafter of Trump’s proposed “Muslim ban” executive order on immigration, an order that courts have blocked as likely unconstitutional.

Catholic teaching on respect for non-Christian religions is utterly incompatible with the narrative and approach taken by the Trump campaign. The Church condemns-as “foreign to the mind of Christ”-“discrimination against people or any harassment of them on the basis of their race, color, condition in life or religion.”

In an eyebrow-raising decision, Trump chose to make his first foreign trip to Saudi Arabia, ahead of Israel and the Vatican. Today’s address to a gathering of leaders in Muslim-majority countries was the key point of that trip and, happily, the speech took on a wildly different tone from the one used during the campaign.

He began by insisting that he was “not here to lecture” his Muslim audience. Instead, the President insisted, he came to seek the end of terrorism and the beginning of peace in the Middle East-noting that 95% of the victims of terrorism are Muslim.

And in so doing, Trump insisted that the battle he wants fought is not between those of different faiths or of different civilizations. Quite the contrary, he claims to seek a “partnership” with people who share our “interests and values.” Remarkably, Trump insisted that Islam was “one of the world’s great faiths” with an “ancient heritage” that served as the “cradle of civilization.”

The phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” was not used in the speech.

This new approach is much more in line with Catholic teaching, which utterly rejects the idea that Christians are somehow in a cultural conflict with Muslims. On the contrary, the Church insists that we should “esteem” Muslims as fellow believers in the Last Day and the judgement of the one God on human beings for our sins. Muslims also share a devotion to Jesus and even acknowledge that he was born of a virgin. Their devotion to Mary outpaces that of many of our fellow Christians, even going so far as proclaiming her immaculate conception.

Given these facts, it is hardly surprising that Popes Paul VI, St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis have spoken glowingly of Islam.

Muslims are our allies, not only in the struggle against terrorism, but in the broader secular culture as well. Muslims unapologetically live in an enchanted world, and are hyper-resistant to the materialist, reductionist, scientistic view that has come to dominate in so many places. God’s reality and power is everywhere, in all things. Human beings have an obvious spiritual component, the soul, which marks us as beings destined for another reality. Spiritual beings-like angels, jinn, and demons-surround us and interact with us whether we acknowledge it or not.

In many ways, Muslims have a theological confidence Christians increasingly lack when it comes to carving out space to live out their faith. They are natural partners, therefore, when it comes to the struggle for religious freedom. Muslims also share the Christian view that God infuses a rational soul in a human being well before birth. Both early Christians and early Muslims resisted the surrounding pagan cultures which actively practiced abortion and infanticide, and we should be more strongly connected in this resistance today.

These are only a smattering of the reasons the Trump campaign’s “clash of civilizations” narrative was so deeply problematic, but they are also reasons for feeling good about Trump’s new rhetoric. Given Trump’s propensity to change his views, however, it should be clear that we must put pressure on his administration to turn this new and hopeful rhetoric into actual policy.

Charles C. Camosy is Associate Professor of Theological and Social Ethics at Fordham University.




Hungary passes bill targeting Soros university

AFP

Budapest (AFP) – Hungarian lawmakers on Tuesday approved legislation that could force the closure of a prestigious Budapest university founded by US billionaire investor George Soros, sparking fresh protests.

The English-language Central European University (CEU), set up in 1991 after the fall of communism, has long been seen as a hostile bastion of liberalism by Prime Minister Viktor Orban‘s government.

MPs in the 199-seat parliament, dominated by Orban’s Fidesz party, voted 123 in favour and 38 against the legislation affecting foreign universities operating in Hungary.

The new rules ban institutions outside the European Union from awarding Hungarian diplomas without an agreement between national governments.

They will also be required to have a campus and faculties in their home country — conditions not met by the CEU.

Failure to comply would mean the CEU could not accept new student intakes from 2018, and possibly close by 2021.

The CEU said Tuesday it would contest the constitutionality of the bill.

“The new law puts at risk the academic freedom not only of CEU but of other Hungarian research and academic institutions,” the university said in a statement.

The bill is seen as a fresh attack on the Hungarian-born philanthropist Soros, 86, often accused by Orban of seeking to undermine Europe by backing open borders and pro-refugee policies.

– ‘Unfair advantage’ –

The legislation, put forward last week and rushed through parliament in a fast-track procedure, triggered a large protest in Budapest on Sunday and has drawn international condemnation.

The US State Department had called for the proposal to be withdrawn, while an open letter was signed by over 900 academics around the world including 18 Nobel prize-winning economists.

“If we want to be a shining beacon of human rights in the world… then Europe can’t remain silent when civil society members like the Central European University in Budapest are being stifled,” German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Tuesday in a speech to European MPs in Strasbourg.

Orban said Monday the future of the CEU depends on the conclusion of a treaty between the governments of Hungary and the United States within the next six months.

The right-wing strongman has accused the university of “cheating” and of having an “unfair advantage” over local institutions — allegations rejected by the CEU as “defamatory”.

Registered in New York state, the CEU teaches over 1,400 students from more than 100 predominantly central and eastern European, as well as post-Soviet Union nations.

It ranks among the top 200 universities in the world in eight disciplines, including top 50 rankings in political science and international studies.

More than 5,000 people staged a protest around its downtown Budapest campus later Tuesday, an AFP correspondent said. Sunday’s march drew an estimated 10,000 demonstrators.

Within five days, President Janos Ader must either sign the legislation into force or order a review by the constitutional court.

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday called on Ader not to sign the bill, denouncing what it said was Hungary’s “contempt for critical voices in society”.

Since coming to power in 2010, Orban has launched contentious sweeping reforms targeting independent institutions like the media and the judiciary.

A law clamping down on foreign-funded non-governmental organisations, including many by Soros, is expected to go before parliament later this month.




Climate change helped cause Brexit, says Al Gore

Former Vice President echoes warnings from US military that global warming is causing dangerous political instability

Ian Johnson
The Independent UK

Brexit was caused in part by climate change, former US Vice-President Al Gore has said, warning that extreme weather is creating political instability “the world will find extremely difficult to deal with”.

Mr Gore, speaking at an event in which he previewed a sequel to his landmark 2006 documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, said the “principal” cause of the Syrian Civil War had been the worst drought in 900 years, which forced 1.5 million people to move from the countryside to the cities.

There they met a similar number of Iraqis who had fled the conflict in their homeland, creating powder keg conditions that Syrian government officials privately feared would explode.

The resulting war brought more refugees into Europe, causing political instability and helping convince some in the UK to vote to leave the European Union.

One of the most controversial Leave campaign posters showed a queue of refugees stretching into the distance with the caption “Breaking point: The EU has failed us all”. The then-Chancellor, George Osborne, described the poster as “disgusting and vile” and, like others who explicitly compared it to Nazi propaganda, said it had “echoes of literature used in the 1930s”.

Mr Gore, whose new film An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power is due out in the UK in August, told an audience at the Advertising Week Europe event in London: “This collision between the power of industrial civilisation and the surprising fragility of the Earth’s ecosystem now poses a great danger that could even threaten the future of human civilisation itself.

“One of the lines of investigation [scientists] have been pursuing has led them to the conclusion that significant areas of the Middle East and North Africa are in danger of becoming uninhabitable.

“And, just a taste of this, to link it to some of the events that the UK and European Union are going through – think for a moment about what happened in Syria.

“Before the gates of hell opened in Syria, what happened was a climate-related extreme drought.

“From 2006 to 2010, 60 per cent of the farms in Syria were destroyed… and 80 per cent of the livestock were killed. The drought in the eastern Mediterranean is the worst ever on record – the records only go back 900 years, but it’s historic.

“And 1.5 million climate refugees were driven into the cities in Syria, where they collided with refugees from the Iraq War.

“Wikileaks revealed the internal conversations in the Syrian government where they were saying to one another ‘we can’t handle this, there’s going to be a social explosion’. There are other causes of the Syrian civil war, but this was the principal one.”

The war broke out in 2011 as people took to the streets during the Arab Spring protest movement against dictators in the Middle East. President Bashar Assad responded by sending in the troops.

Mr Gore said this had produced an “incredible flow of refugees into Europe, which is creating political instability and which contributed in some ways to the desire of some in the UK to say ‘whoa, we’re not sure we want to be part of that anymore’”.

He said this kind of political instability was being felt by a number of countries around the world.

“Some countries have a hard time even in the best of seasons but the additional stress this climate crisis is causing really poses the threat of some political disruption and chaos of a kind the world would find extremely difficult to deal with,” Mr Gore said.

This is a view shared by the current US Defence Secretary, General James “Mad Dog” Mattis.

Despite Donald Trump’s apparent dismissal of the problems being caused by climate change, the US military is taking the issue seriously.

Mr Mattis made this clear in comments to US Senators as he sought their confirmation of his appointment.

“Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today,” he said.

“It is appropriate for the combatant commands to incorporate drivers of instability that impact the security environment in their areas into their planning.

“Climate change can be a driver of instability and the Department of Defence must pay attention to potential adverse impacts generated by this phenomenon.

“I agree that the effects of a changing climate – such as increased maritime access to the Arctic, rising sea levels, desertification, among others – impact our security situation.

“I will ensure that the Department continues to be prepared to conduct operations today and in the future, and that we are prepared to address the effects of a changing climate on our threat assessments, resources, and readiness.”




New Docs Expose Bush Sr. Illegally Destroying Evidence of US Crimes While Head of CIA

Claire Bernish
The Free Thought Project

Documents recently dredged from the CIA’s massive database expose an effort by the former director to destroy documents evincing the agency’s illegal activities and operations.

That director — George H.W. Bush, who served in the role from January 1976 until January 1977 — went on to become the 41st President of the United States.

As MuckRock reports,

“In 1976, Congresswoman Bella Abzug wrote to CIA Director George H.W. Bush about the existing moratorium on the destruction of CIA files. As the Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Government Information and Individual Rights, which had jurisdiction over government information policy including FOIA and the Privacy Act, she wanted the moratorium extended — specifically, she wanted to ensure that Congress had time to enact legislation in response to the Church, Pike, and Rockefeller hearings and the resulting reports.”

Preservation of records — the subject of acrimonious debate during the presidential election, thanks to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server and disappearing documents — is pivotal to government transparency and accountability. And for preventing alterations and staving off lies.

In a draft response to the congresswoman, the agency originally stated, “Destruction of Agency material will be in accordance with the recommendations of the President’s Commission on CIA Activities within the United States, Presidential directives and as permitted by law.”

But edits scribbled on this draft indicate transparency in procedural record-keeping not only didn’t matter to the Central Intelligence Agency, it directly countered Director Bush’s and the agency’s interests.

“Recommend deletion of bracketed paragraph,” “B” penned at the bottom — with brackets specifying the entire aforementioned sentence vowing to remain true to legal strictures.

A strikingly divergent message emerges in the next draft.

“A decision as to the disposition of those files concerning activities which the President’s Commission considered illegal and improper has not been finalized and the moritorium [sic] on destruction is still in effect.

“You can be assured that whatever action is taken regarding these files will be in the best interests of the individuals involved and the U.S. Government.”

Ultimately, the agency again flip-flopped for the final draft by including the necessary, “Destruction of Agency material will be in accordance with Presidential directives and as permitted by law.”

Bush signed it — but the fact the agency at his behest considered protectionism for itself in writing cannot be discounted.

It could be definitively argued that conspicuous detail marked a brief moment of naked honesty for the CIA — as if the truth of what happens to records of nastier operations momentarily spilled onto the page.

It isn’t as if the CIA — whether headed by Bush or another — never guiltily concealed its wrongdoing.

Remember the CIA’s abhorrently sadistic torture program? You might — but obtaining the original copy of the report on its nefarious practice won’t be possible. As The Free Thought Project reported on May 17, 2016,

“[T]he CIA inspector general’s office recently admitted to ‘mistakenly’ destroying their only copy of the classified report. Although CIA Director John Brennan possesses another copy of the torture report, he refuses to send a replacement to the internal watchdog’s office.

image: http://pixel.watch/qut7

“Last summer, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Justice Department were privately informed that CIA employees at the inspector general’s office had both destroyed the disk and deleted the file containing the full Senate Torture Report. Despite the fact that the Justice Department ordered all copies of the classified document to be preserved, acting CIA Inspector General Christopher Sharpley was unable to locate another copy and eventually informed the Senate Intelligence Committee that his officers has mistakenly ruined their only copies.”

Oops.

Award-winning investigative journalist and current editor of Consortiumnews, Robert Parry, penned an article in 2000 concerning a 1976 car bombing in Washington, D.C.’s highbrow Embassy Row — about which the agency created a fake report to throw off the feds and further its own agenda.

“In early fall of 1976,” Parry wrote, “after a Chilean government assassin had killed a Chilean dissident and an American woman with a car bomb in Washington, D.C., George H.W. Bush’s CIA leaked a false report clearing Chile’s military dictatorship and pointing the FBI in the wrong direction.

“The bogus CIA assessment, spread through Newsweek magazine and other U.S. media outlets, was planted despite CIA’s now admitted awareness at the time that Chile was participating in Operation Condor, a cross-border campaign targeting political dissidents, and the CIA’s own suspicions that the Chilean junta was behind the terrorist bombing in Washington.

“In a 21-page report to Congress on Sept. 18, 2000, the CIA officially acknowledged for the first time that the mastermind of the terrorist attack, Chilean intelligence chief Manuel Contreras, was a paid asset of the CIA.”

Parry’s in-depth investigation skips too far from the topic-at-hand to recount here, but those opening paragraphs sufficiently summarize the agency’s attitude toward covering up illegal and worse activities — not to mention how it attests Bush’s character and ethics.

It seems reasonable for certain government agencies to maintain a degree of secrecy with information sensitive to national security — however, citing national security has written the permission slip for innumerable State wrongs and inexcusable encroachment on individual freedoms and liberties.

And this from a CIA led by a man who would eventually reside in the White House — overseeing theoretically the clandestine activities of the entire body of Intelligence and other agencies under the control of the U.S. government.

Perhaps it should be asked, what else could George Herbert Walker Bush — and the CIA — be hiding?




Soros-funded charities targeted by Trump-inspired crackdown in East Europe

Reuters

Marton Dunai

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – When his government lost a lawsuit in the European Court of Human Rights last week over its detention and expulsion of two migrants from Bangladesh, Hungary’s rightwing prime minister blamed the usual suspect: a billionaire in New York.

“It is a collusion of human traffickers, Brussels bureaucrats and the organizations that work in Hungary financed by foreign money,” Viktor Orban told public radio on Friday.

“Let’s call a spade a spade: George Soros finances them.”

Across former Communist states of east and central Europe, leaders with a hardline bent have turned their wrath in recent months against Soros, a Hungarian-American financier who funds liberal charities and non-governmental organizations worldwide through his Open Society Foundations (OSF).

The campaign against Soros in countries formerly dominated by Moscow appears to follow a template set by Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose own crackdown on foreign-funded charities drove Soros’s foundation out of Russia two years ago.

And now, with President Donald Trump in the White House, anti-Soros campaigners in Eastern Europe say they have also drawn inspiration from the United States, particularly from rightwing U.S. media like the website Breitbart, which has long vilified Soros as a liberal hate figure.

Breitbart’s former chairman Steve Bannon now serves as a senior White House adviser to Trump.

“Our inspiration comes from the United States, from the American conservative organizations, media and congressmen with the same views, especially the new administration of President Trump,” said Cvetlin Cilimanov, the editor of the main state news agency in Macedonia, who co-founded a group called Operation Stop Soros in January.

“THEY CRUSH YOU”

Macedonia, a former Yugoslav republic north of Greece, has been embroiled in a political crisis that began two years ago with street demonstrations and forced nationalist prime minister Nikola Gruevski to resign last year after a decade in power. Gruevski, who still controls the biggest bloc in parliament and is expected to return to power, blames Soros for his downfall.

“Soros turns Macedonian NGOs into a modern army,” he told local magazine Republika in January. “They crush you. They make you a criminal, a thief, traitor, idiot, a monster, whatever they want. Then you have to go to elections.”

“He doesn’t only do that in Macedonia but in a great number of countries.”

In Romania, ruling Social Democrat party leader Liviu Dragnea told a TV interviewer in January that Soros and “the foundations and structures that he has funded since 1990 have financed evil in Romania”.

Soros has also been attacked by members of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party and politicians elsewhere in the region.

His charity says it is undaunted and has no intention of quitting his native Eastern Europe.

“You cannot export democracy, you can only import it and build it locally,” Chris Stone, who runs Soros’s charitable enterprises from New York as president of the OSF, told Reuters, explaining the need to keep a presence on the ground.

“We see our work (in Eastern Europe) continuing for decades. That work will ebb and flow.”

The OSF said Soros was not available to comment.

THE MAN WHO BROKE THE BANK

Soros, born in Hungary to a Jewish family that survived the Nazi occupation with fake documents, emigrated to Britain after World War Two and then to the United States.

As a financier, he is best known for “breaking the Bank of England” with a huge bet against the British pound that forced London to abandon a fixed trading range with other European currencies in 1992, earning Soros more than $1 billion.

The Open Society Foundations website says he has given away more than $12 billion as a philanthropist, with activities in more than 100 countries in a vast array of policy areas linked to democracy, free speech, human rights and the rule of law.

The OSF mostly gives its money in the form of a large number of small grants to other charities, organizations or individuals for specific projects.

That means hundreds of groups worldwide have accepted its money over the years, allowing conspiracy theorists and other foes to paint Soros as the center of a vast web. In countries like Hungary, so many human rights groups have sought OSF grants at some point that politicians can use the association with Soros to attack whole swathes of civil society.

“Fake NGOs of the Soros empire are sustained to suppress national governments in favor of global capital and the world of political correctness,” Szilard Nemeth, a deputy leader of Orban’s ruling Fidesz party, said in January.

“These organizations must be repressed by all means and I think they must be culled altogether. I think there is an international opportunity to do that now.”

“PRETTY HUMAN RIGHTS NONSENSE”

Veterans of the dissident movements of Eastern Europe’s Communist-era, when dictatorships repressed all organizations outside state control, say the tactics are familiar.

“The fact that NGOs are called the enemy of the government shows these are no longer democracies,” said Maria Vasarhelyi, an opposition figure in Hungary whose father Miklos, a prominent Communist-era dissident, ran Soros’s foundation in the 1990s.

Bojan Maricik, head of Macedonia’s Centre for European Strategies – Eurothink, a pro-EU think tank which has received Soros grants, said prosecutors, tax inspectors and police in Macedonia had launched investigations into the funding of charities since an anti-Soros speech by Gruevski in December.

A “de-Sorosization purge” aims to bar civil society groups from participating in public life by delegitmizing them, Maricik said.

“There is no dialogue in a context where the government marks you as an enemy of the state,” he said.

The crackdown is particularly acute in Soros’s native Hungary, where Orban has consolidated his grip on the media and judiciary, and regularly accuses liberals of trying to destroy Europe by flooding the continent with migrants.

A new law proposed by Orban would require groups that receive foreign funding to register, a measure that critics say is drawn straight out of the Putin playbook.

Opposition to immigration has been the core of Orban’s political message since 2015, when more than a million migrants and refugees entered the EU through the Balkans. Hungary was initially their main entry point into the bloc’s border-free zone, although nearly all proceeded on to Germany and other countries further north. Orban built a fence to keep them out.

Meanwhile, Soros prioritized support for charities that help migrants and asylum seekers. At the height of the flow in 2015, his OSF put out a statement saying: “The Hungarian crisis demonstrates the dangers radical populist regimes pose not only to the hundreds of thousands of refugees, but also to the values of Europe and to the humanity of the local populations.”

The Balkan immigration route has since largely been shut, following an agreement secured by the EU for Turkey to take migrants back. But Orban’s message still hammers home the need to keep out migrants, and he portrays rights groups as part of a plot to abolish nation states and flood Europe with foreigners.

Hungary’s Helsinki Committee, a rights group founded in 1989 that has accepted Soros funding, helped defeat the government in court in Strasbourg. It argued that two Bangladeshi migrants had been unlawfully detained at a makeshift transit zone on the Hungarian-Serbian border and expelled with no regard to their future safety, in violation of their rights.

Orban has proposed new rules governing asylum due to take effect in coming days that his opponents say ignore the principles of the Strasbourg ruling.

Helsinki co-Chair Marta Pardavi says she expects to file many more cases on behalf of migrants who are in similar positions, which could generate a systemic intervention by Strasbourg and a tooth-and-nail fight with the government.

“Our position, which Orban has called ‘pretty human rights nonsense’ has just won in Strasbourg,” she said. “If I were the Hungarian government I would be considering the necessary legislative amendments now.”

Pardavi said her organization, made up mainly of lawyers, would not be intimidated by a government crackdown, but other groups were likely to be less resilient, and the crackdown could deter activism in the country more broadly.

“Helping refugees has become stigmatized,” she said. “Many organizations decide to keep it in the background. Old, trusted, large organizations are afraid to step up publicly to avoid the backlash on their other activities,” she said.

“If people feel there is going to be retaliation, negative consequences for their private lives, then this potentially could have a chilling effect, reduce the number of people interested not only taking part in civil society organizations but in general public affairs.”




David Rockefeller & October Surprise Case

Robert Parry
Consortium News

From the Archive: David Rockefeller’s death at age 101 brought effusive eulogies, but no recollection of his mysterious role in the Iran hostage crisis of 1980, which helped sink President Carter’s reelection, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry (Originally published April 15, 2005)

On March 23, 1979, late on a Friday afternoon, Chase Manhattan Bank Chairman David Rockefeller and his longtime aide Joseph Verner Reed arrived at a town house in the exclusive Beekham Place neighborhood on New York’s East Side. They were met inside by a small, intense and deeply worried woman who had seen her life turned upside down in the last two months.

Iran’s Princess Ashraf, the strong-willed twin sister of the Iran’s long-time ruler, had gone from wielding immense behind-the-scenes clout in the ancient nation of Persia to living in exile – albeit a luxurious one. With hostile Islamic fundamentalists running her homeland, Ashraf also was troubled by the plight of her ailing brother, the ousted Shah of Iran, who had fled into exile, first to Egypt and then Morocco.

Now, she was turning for help to the man who ran one of the leading U.S. banks, one which had made a fortune serving as the Shah’s banker for a quarter century and handling billions of dollars in Iran’s assets. Ashraf’s message was straightforward. She wanted Rockefeller to intercede with Jimmy Carter and ask the President to relent on his decision against granting the Shah refuge in the United States.

A distressed Ashraf said her brother had been given a one-week deadline to leave his current place of refuge, Morocco. “My brother has nowhere to go,” Ashraf pleaded, “and no one else to turn to.” [See David Rockefeller, Memoirs]

Spurned Appeals

Carter had been resisting appeals to let the Shah enter the United States, fearing that admitting him would endanger the personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Teheran and other U.S. interests. In mid-February 1979, Iranian radicals had overrun the embassy and briefly held the staff hostage before the Iranian government intervened to secure release of the Americans.

Carter feared a repeat of the crisis. Already the United States was deeply unpopular with the Islamic revolution because of the CIA’s history of meddling in Iranian affairs. The U.S. spy agency had helped organize the overthrow of an elected nationalist government in 1953 and the restoration of the Shah and the Pahlavi family to the Peacock Throne. In the quarter century that followed, the Shah kept his opponents at bay through the coercive powers of his secret police, known as the SAVAK.

As the Islamic Revolution gained strength in January 1979, however, the Shah’s security forces could no longer keep order. The Shah – suffering from terminal cancer – scooped up a small pile of Iranian soil, boarded his jet, sat down at the controls and flew the plane out of Iran to Egypt.

A few days later, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, an ascetic religious leader who had been forced into exile by the Shah, returned to a tumultuous welcome from crowds estimated at a million strong, shouting “Death to the Shah.” The new Iranian government began demanding that the Shah be returned to stand trial for human rights crimes and that he surrender his fortune, salted away in overseas accounts.

The new Iranian government also wanted Chase Manhattan to return Iranian assets, which Rockefeller put at more than $1 billion in 1978, although some estimates ran much higher. The withdrawal might have created a liquidity crisis for the bank, which already was coping with financial troubles.

Ashraf’s personal appeal put Rockefeller in what he described, with understatement, as “an awkward position,” according to his autobiography Memoirs.

“There was nothing in my previous relationship with the Shah that made me feel a strong obligation to him,” wrote the scion of the Rockefeller oil and banking fortune who had long prided himself in straddling the worlds of high finance and public policy. “He had never been a friend to whom I owed a personal debt, and neither was his relationship with the bank one that would justify my taking personal risks on his behalf. Indeed, there might be severe repercussions for Chase if the Iranian authorities determined that I was being too helpful to the Shah and his family.”

Later on March 23, after leaving Ashraf’s residence, Rockefeller attended a dinner with Happy Rockefeller, the widow of his brother Nelson who had died two months earlier. Also at the dinner was former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, a long-time associate of the Rockefeller family.

Discussing the Shah’s plight, Happy Rockefeller described her late husband’s close friendship with the Shah, which had included a weekend stay with the Shah and his wife in Teheran in 1977. Happy said that when Nelson learned that the Shah would be forced to leave Iran, Nelson offered to pick out a new home for the Shah in the United States.

The dinner conversation also turned to what the participants saw as the dangerous precedent that President Carter was setting by turning his back on a prominent U.S. ally. What message of American timidity was being sent to other pro-U.S. leaders in the Middle East?

‘Flying Dutchman’

The dinner led to a public campaign by Rockefeller – along with Kissinger and former Chase Manhattan Bank Chairman John McCloy – to find a suitable home in exile for the Shah. Country after country had closed their doors to the Shah as he began a humiliating odyssey as what Kissinger would call a modern-day “Flying Dutchman,” wandering in search of a safe harbor.

Rockefeller assigned his aide, Joseph Reed, “to help [the Shah] in any way he could,” including serving as the Shah’s liaison to the U.S. government. McCloy, one of the so-called Wise Men of the post-World War II era, was representing Chase Manhattan as an attorney with Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy. One of his duties was to devise a financial strategy for staving off Iran’s withdrawal of assets from the bank.

Rockefeller also pressed the Shah’s case personally with Carter when the opportunity presented itself. On April 9, 1979, at the end of an Oval Office meeting on another topic, Rockefeller handed Carter a one-page memo describing the views of many foreign leaders disturbed by recent U.S. foreign policy actions, including Carter’s treatment of the Shah.

“With virtually no exceptions, the heads of state and other government leaders I saw expressed concern about United States foreign policy which they perceived to be vacillating and lacking in an understandable global approach,” Rockefeller’s memo read. “They have questions about the dependability of the United States as a friend.” An irritated Carter abruptly ended the meeting.

Temporary Havens

Despite the mounting pressure from influential quarters, Carter continued to rebuff appeals to let the Shah into the United States. So the Shah’s influential friends began looking for alternative locations, asking other nations to shelter the ex-Iranian ruler.

Finally, arrangements were made for the Shah to fly to the Bahamas and – when the Bahamian government turned out to be more interested in money than humanitarianism – to Mexico.

“With the Shah safely settled in Mexico, I had hopes that the need for my direct involvement on his behalf had ended,” Rockefeller wrote in Memoirs. “Henry [Kissinger] continued to publicly criticize the Carter administration for its overall management of the Iranian crisis and other aspects of its foreign policy, and Jack McCloy bombarded [Carter’s Secretary of State] Cyrus Vance with letters demanding the Shah’s admission to the United States.”

When the Shah’s medical condition took a turn for the worse in October, Carter relented and agreed to let the Shah fly to New York for emergency treatment. Celebrating Carter’s reversal, Rockefeller’s aide Joseph Reed wrote in a memo, “our ‘mission impossible’ is completed. … My applause is like thunder.”

When the Shah arrived in New York on October 23, 1979, Reed checked the Shah into New York Hospital under a pseudonym, “David Newsome,” a play on the name of Carter’s undersecretary of state for political affairs, David Newsom.

Embassy Crisis

The arrival of the Shah in New York led to renewed demands from Iran’s new government that the Shah be returned to stand trial.

In Teheran, students and other radicals gathered at the university, called by their leaders to what was described as an important meeting, according to one of the participants whom I interviewed years later.

The students gathered in a classroom which had three blackboards turned toward the wall. A speaker told the students that they were about to undertake a mission supported by Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran’s spiritual leader and the de facto head of the government.

“They said it would be dangerous and that anyone who didn’t want to take part could leave now,” the Iranian told me. “But no one left. Then, they turned around the blackboards. There were three buildings drawn on the blackboards. They were the buildings of the U.S. embassy.”

The Iranian said the target of the raid was not the embassy personnel, but rather the embassy’s intelligence documents.

“We had believed that the U.S. government had been manipulating affairs inside Iran and we wanted to prove it,” he said. “We thought if we could get into the embassy, we could get the documents that would prove this. We hadn’t thought about the hostages. We all went to the embassy. We had wire cutters to cut through the fence. We started climbing over the fences. We had expected more resistance. When we got inside, we saw the Americans running and we chased them.”

Marine guards set off tear gas in a futile attempt to control the mob, but held their fire to avoid bloodshed. Other embassy personnel hastily shredded classified documents, although there wasn’t time to destroy many of the secret papers. The militant students found themselves in control not only of the embassy and hundreds of sensitive U.S. cables, but dozens of American hostages as well.

An international crisis had begun, a hinge that would swing open unexpected doors for both American and Iranian history.

Hidden Compartments

David Rockefeller denied that his campaign to gain the Shah’s admittance to the United States had provoked the crisis, arguing that he was simply filling a vacuum created when the Carter administration balked at doing the right thing.

“Despite the insistence of journalists and revisionist historians, there was never a ‘Rockefeller-Kissinger behind-the-scenes campaign’ that placed ‘relentless pressure’ on the Carter administration to have the Shah admitted to the United States regardless of the consequences,” Rockefeller wrote in Memoirs. “In fact, it would be more accurate to say that for many months we were the unwilling surrogates for a government that had failed to accept its full responsibilities.”

But within the Iranian hostage crisis, there would be hidden compartments within hidden compartments, as influential groups around the world acted in what they perceived to be their personal or their national interests.

Rockefeller was just one of many powerful people who felt that Jimmy Carter deserved to lose his job. With the hostage crisis started, a countdown of 365 days began toward the 1980 elections. Though he may have been only dimly aware of his predicament, Carter faced a remarkable coalition of enemies both inside and outside the United States.

In the Persian Gulf, the Saudi royal family and other Arab oil sheiks blamed Carter for forsaking the Shah and feared their own playboy life styles might be next on the list for the Islamic fundamentalists. The Israeli government saw Carter as too cozy with the Palestinians and too eager to cut a peace deal that would force Israel to surrender land won in the 1967 war.

European anti-communists believed Carter was too soft on the Soviet Union and was risking the security of Europe. Dictators in the Third World – from the Philippines and South Korea to Argentina and El Salvador – were bristling at Carter’s human rights lectures.

Inside the United States, the Carter administration had made enemies at the CIA by purging many of the Old Boys who saw themselves as protectors of America’s deepest national interests. Many CIA veterans, including some still within the government, were disgruntled. And, of course, the Republicans were determined to win back the White House, which many felt had been unjustly taken from their control after Richard Nixon’s landslide victory in 1972.

This subterranean struggle between Carter, trying desperately to free the hostages before the 1980 election, and those who stood to benefit by thwarting him became known popularly as the “October Surprise” controversy.

The nickname referred to the possibility that Carter might have ensured his reelection by arranging the hostage return the month before the presidential election as an October Surprise, although the term came ultimately to refer to clandestine efforts to stop Carter from pulling off his October Surprise.

CIA Old Boys

When the hostage crisis wasn’t resolved in the first few weeks and months, the attention of many disgruntled CIA Old Boys also turned toward the American humiliation in Iran, which they found doubly hard to take since it had been the site of the agency’s first major victory, the restoration of the Shah to the Peacock Throne.

A number of veterans from that operation of 1953 were still alive in 1980. Archibald Roosevelt was one of the Old Boys from the Iranian operation. He had moved on to become an adviser to David Rockefeller at Chase Manhattan Bank.

Another was Miles Copeland, who had served the CIA as an intermediary to Arab leaders, including Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser. In his autobiography, The Game Player, Copeland claimed that he and his CIA chums prepared their own Iranian hostage rescue plan in March 1980.

When I interviewed Copeland in 1990 at his thatched-roofed cottage outside Oxford in the English countryside, he said he had been a strong supporter of George H.W. Bush in 1980. He even had founded an informal support group called “Spooks for Bush.”

Sitting among photos of his children who included the drummer for the rock group, The Police, and the manager for the rock star, Sting, Copeland explained that he and his CIA colleagues considered Carter a dangerous idealist.

“Let me say first that we liked President Carter,” Copeland told me “He read, unlike President Reagan later, he read everything. He knew what he was about. He understood the situation throughout the Middle East, even these tenuous, difficult problems such as Arabs and Israel.

“But the way we saw Washington at that time was that the struggle was really not between the Left and the Right, the liberals and the conservatives, as between the Utopians and the realists, the pragmatists. Carter was a Utopian. He believed, honestly, that you must do the right thing and take your chance on the consequences. He told me that. He literally believed that.”

Copeland’s deep Southern accent spit out the words with a mixture of amazement and disgust. To Copeland and his CIA friends, Carter deserved respect for a first-rate intellect but contempt for his idealism.

“Most of the things that were done [by the United States] about Iran had been on a basis of stark realism, with possibly the exception of letting the Shah down,” Copeland said. “There are plenty of forces in the country we could have marshaled. … We could have sabotaged [the revolution, but] we had to establish what the Quakers call ‘the spirit of the meeting’ in the country, where everybody was thinking just one way. The Iranians were really like sheep, as they are now.”

Altar of Ideals

But Carter, troubled by the Shah’s human rights record, delayed taking decisive action and missed the moment of opportunity, Copeland said. Infuriating the CIA’s Old Boys, Carter had sacrificed an ally on the altar of idealism.

“Carter really believed in all the principles that we talk about in the West,” Copeland said, shaking his mane of white hair. “As smart as Carter is, he did believe in Mom, apple pie and the corner drug store. And those things that are good in America are good everywhere else.”

Veterans of the CIA and Republicans from the Nixon-Ford administrations judged that Carter simply didn’t measure up to the demands of a harsh world.

“There were many of us – myself along with Henry Kissinger, David Rockefeller, Archie Roosevelt in the CIA at the time – we believed very strongly that we were showing a kind of weakness, which people in Iran and elsewhere in the world hold in great contempt,” Copeland said. “The fact that we’re being pushed around, and being afraid of the Ayatollah Khomeini, so we were going to let a friend down, which was horrifying to us. That’s the sort of thing that was frightening to our friends in Saudi Arabia, in Egypt and other places.”

But Carter also bent to the moral suasions of the Shah’s friends, who argued on humanitarian grounds that the ailing Shah deserved admission to the United States for medical treatment. “Carter, I say, was not a stupid man,” Copeland said. Carter had even a greater flaw: “He was a principled man.”

So, Carter decided that the moral act was to allow the Shah to enter the United States for treatment, leading to the result Carter had feared: the seizure of the U.S. Embassy.

Frozen Assets

As the crisis dragged on, the Carter administration cranked up the pressure on the Iranians. Along with diplomatic initiatives, Iran’s assets were frozen, a move that ironically helped David Rockefeller’s Chase Manhattan Bank by preventing the Iranians from cleaning out their funds from the bank’s vaults.

In Memoirs, Rockefeller wrote that the Iranian “government did reduce the balances they maintained with us during the second half of 1979, but in reality they had simply returned to their historic level of about $500 million,” Rockefeller wrote. “Carter’s ‘freeze’ of official Iranian assets protected our position, but no one at Chase played a role in convincing the administration to institute it.”

In the weeks that followed the embassy seizure, Copeland said he and his friends turned their attention to figuring a way out of the mess.

“There was very little sympathy for the hostages,” Copeland said. “We all have served abroad, served in embassies like that. We got additional pay for danger. I think, for Syria, I got fifty percent extra in salary. So it’s a chance you take. When you join the army, you take a chance of getting in a war and getting shot. If you’re in the diplomatic service, you take a chance on having some horror like this descend on you.

“But on the other hand, we did think that there were things we could do to get them out, other than simply letting the Iranians, the students, and the Iranian administration know that they were beating us,” Copeland said. “We let them know what an advantage they had. That we could have gotten them out is something that all of us old professionals of the covert action school, we said from the beginning, ‘Why don’t they let us do it?’”

According to The Game Player, Copeland met his old friend, ex-CIA counter-intelligence chief James Angleton, for lunch. The famed spy hunter “brought to lunch a Mossad chap who confided that his service had identified at least half of the ‘students,’ even to the extent of having their home addresses in Teheran,” Copeland wrote. “He gave me a rundown on what sort of kids they were. Most of them, he said, were just that, kids.”

Periphery Strategy

The Israeli government was another deeply interested player in the Iran crisis. For decades, Israel had cultivated covert ties with the Shah’s regime as part of a Periphery Strategy of forming alliances with non-Arab states in the region to prevent Israel’s Arab enemies from focusing all their might against Israel.

Though losing an ally when the Shah fell and offended by the anti-Israeli rhetoric from the Khomeini regime, Israel had gone about quietly rebuilding relations with the Iranian government. One of the young Israeli intelligence agents assigned to this task was an Iranian-born Jew named Ari Ben-Menashe, who had immigrated to Israel as a teen-ager and was valuable because he spoke fluent Farsi and still had friends in Iran, some of whom were rising within the new revolutionary bureaucracy.

In his own 1992 memoirs, Profits of War, Ben-Menashe said the view of Israel’s Likud leaders, including Prime Minister Menachem Begin, was one of contempt for Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s.

“Begin loathed Carter for the peace agreement forced upon him at Camp David,” Ben-Menashe wrote. “As Begin saw it, the agreement took away Sinai from Israel, did not create a comprehensive peace, and left the Palestinian issue hanging on Israel’s back.”

After the Shah fell, Begin grew even more dissatisfied with Carter’s handling of the crisis and alarmed over the growing likelihood of an Iraqi attack on Iran’s oil-rich Khuzistan province. Israel saw Iraq’s Saddam Hussein as a far greater threat to Israel than Iran’s Khomeini. Ben-Menashe wrote that Begin, recognizing the realpolitik needs of Israel, authorized shipments to Iran of small arms and some spare parts, via South Africa, as early as September 1979.

After the U.S. hostages were taken in November 1979, the Israelis came to agree with Copeland’s hard-headed skepticism about Carter’s approach to the hostage issue, Ben- Menashe wrote. Even though Copeland was generally regarded as a CIA “Arabist” who had opposed Israeli interests in the past, he was admired for his analytical skills, Ben-Menashe wrote.

“A meeting between Miles Copeland and Israeli intelligence officers was held at a Georgetown house in Washington, D.C.,” Ben-Menashe wrote. “The Israelis were happy to deal with any initiative but Carter’s. David Kimche, chief of Tevel, the foreign relations unit of Mossad, was the senior Israeli at the meeting. … The Israelis and the Copeland group came up with a two-pronged plan to use quiet diplomacy with the Iranians and to draw up a scheme for military action against Iran that would not jeopardize the lives of the hostages.”

In late February 1980, Seyeed Mehdi Kashani, an Iranian emissary, arrived in Israel to discuss Iran’s growing desperation for aircraft spare parts, Ben-Menashe wrote. Kashani, whom Ben-Menashe had known from their school days in Teheran, also revealed that the Copeland initiative was making inroads inside Iran and that approaches from some Republican emissaries had already been received, Ben-Menashe wrote.

“Kashani said that the secret ex-CIA-Miles-Copeland group was aware that any deal cut with the Iranians would have to include the Israelis because they would have to be used as a third party to sell military equipment to Iran,” according to Ben-Menashe. In March, the following month, the Israelis made their first direct military shipment to Iran, 300 tires for Iran’s F-4 fighter jets, Ben-Menashe wrote.

Rescue Plans

In the 1990 interview at his house in the English countryside, Copeland told me that he and other CIA old-timers developed their own hostage-rescue plan. Copeland said the plan – which included cultivating political allies within Iran and using disinformation tactics to augment a military assault – was hammered out on March 22, 1980, in a meeting at his Georgetown apartment.

Copeland said he was aided by Steven Meade, the ex-chief of the CIA’s Escape and Evasion Unit; Kermit Roosevelt, who had overseen the 1953 coup in Iran; and Archibald Roosevelt, the adviser to David Rockefeller.

“Essentially, the idea was to have some Iranians dressed in Iranian military uniform and police uniform go to the embassy, address the students and say, ‘Hey, you’re doing a marvelous job here. But now we’ll relieve you of it, because we understand that there’s going to be a military force flown in from outside. And they’re going to hit you, and we’re going to scatter these [hostages] around town. Thanks very much.”

Copeland’s Iranians would then move the hostages to the edge of Teheran where they would be loaded onto American helicopters to be flown out of the country.

To Copeland’s chagrin, his plan fell on deaf ears in the Carter administration, which was developing its own rescue plan that would rely more on U.S. military force with only modest help from Iranian assets in Teheran. So, Copeland said he distributed his plan outside the administration, to leading Republicans, giving sharper focus to their contempt for Carter’s bungled Iranian strategy.

“Officially, the plan went only to people in the government and was top secret and all that,” Copeland said. “But as so often happens in government, one wants support, and when it was not being handled by the Carter administration as though it was top secret, it was handled as though it was nothing. … Yes, I sent copies to everybody who I thought would be a good ally. …

“Now I’m not at liberty to say what reaction, if any, ex-President Nixon took, but he certainly had a copy of this. We sent one to Henry Kissinger, and I had, at the time, a secretary who had just worked for Henry Kissinger, and Peter Rodman, who was still working for him and was a close personal friend of mine, and so we had these informal relationships where the little closed circle of people who were, a, looking forward to a Republican President within a short while and, b, who were absolutely trustworthy and who understood all these inner workings of the international game board.”

By April 1980, Carter’s patience was wearing thin, both with the Iranians and some U.S. allies. After discovering that the Israelis had made a secret shipment of 300 tires to Iran, Carter complained to Prime Minister Begin.

“There had been a rather tense discussion between President Carter and Prime Minister Begin in the spring of 1980 in which the President made clear that the Israelis had to stop that, and that we knew that they were doing it, and that we would not allow it to continue, at least not allow it to continue privately and without the knowledge of the American people,” Carter’s press secretary Jody Powell told me. “And it stopped” – at least temporarily.

Questioned by congressional investigators a dozen years later, Carter said he felt that by April 1980, “Israel cast their lot with Reagan,” according to notes I found among the unpublished documents in the files of a House Task Force, which had examined the October Surprise controversy. Carter traced the Israeli opposition to his reelection to a “lingering concern [among] Jewish leaders that I was too friendly with Arabs.”

Carter’s National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski also recognized the Israeli hostility. In an interview, Brzezinski told me that the Carter White House was well aware that the Begin government had “an obvious preference for a Reagan victory.”

Desert One

Encircled by growing legions of enemies, the Carter administration put the finishing touches on its own hostage-rescue operation in April. Code named “Eagle Claw,” the assault involved a force of U.S. helicopters that would swoop down on Teheran, coordinate with some agents on the ground and extract the hostages.

Carter ordered the operation to proceed on April 24, but mechanical problems forced the helicopters to turn back. At a staging area called Desert One, one of the helicopters collided with a refueling plane, causing an explosion that killed eight American crewmen.

Their charred bodies were then displayed by the Iranian government, adding to the fury and humiliation of the United States. After the Desert One fiasco, the Iranians dispersed the hostages to a variety of locations, effectively shutting the door on another rescue attempt, at least one that would have any chance of returning the hostages as a group.

By summer 1980, Copeland told me, the Republicans in his circle considered a second hostage-rescue attempt not only unfeasible, but unnecessary. They were talking confidently about the hostages being freed after a Republican victory in November, the old CIA man said.

“There was no discussion of a Kissinger or Nixon plan to rescue these people, because Nixon, like everybody else, knew that all we had to do was wait until the election came, and they were going to get out,” Copeland said. “That was sort of an open secret among people in the intelligence community, that that would happen. … The intelligence community certainly had some understanding with somebody in Iran in authority, in a way that they would hardly confide in me.”

Copeland said his CIA friends had been told by contacts in Iran that the mullahs would do nothing to help Carter or his reelection.

“At that time, we had word back, because you always have informed relations with the devil,” Copeland said. “But we had word that, ‘Don’t worry.’ As long as Carter wouldn’t get credit for getting these people out, as soon as Reagan came in, the Iranians would be happy enough to wash their hands of this and move into a new era of Iranian-American relations, whatever that turned out to be.”

In the interview, Copeland declined to give more details, beyond his assurance that “the CIA within the CIA,” his term for the true protectors of U.S. national security, had an understanding with the Iranians about the hostages. (Copeland died on January 14, 1991, before I could interview him again.)

Much of the controversy over the October Surprise mystery has centered on several alleged secret meetings in Europe between senior Republicans – including then-Reagan campaign chief William Casey and Reagan’s running mate George H.W. Bush – and Iranian officials, including senior cleric Mehdi Karrubi.

A variety of witnesses, including Iranian officials and international intelligence operatives, have described these contacts, which have been denied by Bush and other top Republicans. Though official U.S. investigations have generally sided with the Republicans, a substantial body of evidence – much of it kept hidden from the American people – actually supports the October Surprise allegations.

[For a summary of the evidence on the Reagan campaign’s interference, go to “Second Thoughts on October Surprise.” For more detailed accounts, see Robert Parry’s Trick or Treason, Secrecy & Privilege and America’s Stolen Narrative.]

Rockefeller’s Visit

Evidence from Reagan-Bush campaign files also points to undisclosed contacts between the Rockefeller group and Casey during Carter’s hostage negotiations.

According to a campaign visitor log for September 11, 1980, David Rockefeller and several of his aides who were dealing with the Iranian issue signed in to see Casey at his campaign headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

With Rockefeller were Joseph Reed, whom Rockefeller had assigned to coordinate U.S. policy toward the Shah, and Archibald Roosevelt, the former CIA officer who was monitoring events in the Persian Gulf for Chase Manhattan and who had collaborated with Miles Copeland on the Iran hostage-rescue plan. The fourth member of the party was Owen Frisbie, Rockefeller’s chief lobbyist in Washington.

In the early 1990s, all the surviving the participants – Rockefeller, Reed and Frisbie – declined to be interviewed about the Casey meeting. Rockefeller made no mention of the meeting in Memoirs.

Henry Kissinger, another Rockefeller associate, also was in discreet contact with campaign director Casey during this period, according to Casey’s personal chauffeur whom I interviewed. The chauffeur, who asked not to be identified by name, said he was sent twice to Kissinger’s Georgetown home to pick up the former Secretary of State and bring him to Arlington, Virginia, for private meetings with Casey, meetings that were not recorded on the official visitor logs.

On September 16, 1980, five days after the Rockefeller visit to Casey’s office, Iran’s acting foreign minister Sadegh Ghotbzadeh publicly cited Republican interference on the hostages.

“Reagan, supported by Kissinger and others, has no intention of resolving the problem,” Ghotbzadeh said. “They will do everything in their power to block it.”

In the weeks before Election 1980, FBI wiretaps picked up other evidence that connected Rockefeller associates with two of the key suspects in the October Surprise mystery, Iranian banker Cyrus Hashemi and longtime Casey business associate John Shaheen.

According to the FBI wiretaps hidden in Hashemi’s New York offices in September 1980, Hashemi and Shaheen were involved in the intrigue surrounding the Iran hostage crisis while simultaneously promoting murky financial schemes.

Hashemi was supposedly acting as an intermediary for President Carter for secret approaches to Iranian officials about getting the hostages released. But Hashemi also appears to have been playing a double game, serving as a backchannel for the Reagan-Bush campaign, through Shaheen, who had known Casey since their World War II days together in the Office of Strategic Services, the CIA’s forerunner.

The FBI wiretaps revealed that Hashemi and Shaheen also were trying to establish a bank with Philippine interests in either the Caribbean or in Hong Kong. In mid-October 1980, Hashemi deposited “a large sum of money” in a Philippine bank and planned to meet with Philippine representatives in Europe, an FBI intercept discovered.

The negotiations led Shaheen to an agreement with Herminio Disini, an in-law of Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos, to establish the Hong Kong Deposit and Guaranty Company. Disini also was a top moneyman for Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos.

The $20 million used as starting capital for the bank came through Jean A. Patry, David Rockefeller’s lawyer in Geneva, Switzerland. But the original source of the money, according to two Shaheen associates I interviewed, was Princess Ashraf, the Shah’s twin sister.

Reagan’s Victory

On November 4, 1980, one year to the day after the Iranian militants seized the U.S. Embassy in Teheran, Ronald Reagan routed Jimmy Carter in the U.S. presidential elections. In the weeks after the election, the hostage negotiations continued.

As Reagan’s Inauguration neared, Republicans talked tough, making clear that Ronald Reagan wouldn’t stand for the humiliation that the nation endured for 444 days under Carter. The Reagan-Bush team intimated that Reagan would deal harshly with Iran if it didn’t surrender the hostages.

A joke making the rounds of Washington went: “What’s three feet deep and glows in the dark? Teheran ten minutes after Ronald Reagan becomes President.”

On Inauguration Day, January 20, 1981, just as Reagan was beginning his inaugural address, word came from Iran that the hostages were freed. The American people were overjoyed. The coincidence in timing between the hostage release and Reagan’s taking office immediately boosted the new President’s image as a tough guy who wouldn’t let the United States be pushed around.

The reality, however, appears to have been different, with U.S. weapons soon flowing secretly to Iran through Israel and participants in the October Surprise mystery seeming to get in line for payoffs.

The bank deal that Cyrus Hashemi and John Shaheen had discussed for months took final shape two days after Reagan’s Inauguration. On January 22, 1981, Shaheen opened the Hong Kong Deposit and Guaranty Bank with $20 million that had been funneled to him through Jean Patry, the Rockefeller-connected lawyer in Geneva who was fronting for Princess Ashraf.

Why, I asked one of Shaheen’s associates, would Ashraf have invested $20 million in a bank with these dubious characters? “It was funny money,” the associate answered. He believed it was money that the Islamic revolutionary government was claiming as its own.

A second Shaheen associate said Shaheen was particularly secretive when asked about his relationship with the deposed princess. “When it comes to Ashraf, I’m a cemetery,” Shaheen once said.

From 1981 to 1984, Hong Kong Deposit and Guaranty pulled in hundreds of millions of petrodollars. The bank also attracted high-flying Arabs to its board of directors.

Two directors were Ghanim Al-Mazrouie, an Abu Dhabi official who controlled 10 percent of the corrupt Bank of Credit and Commerce International, and Hassan Yassin, a cousin of Saudi financier Adnan Khashoggi and an adviser to BCCI principal Kamal Adham, the former chief of Saudi intelligence.

Though Cyrus Hashemi’s name was not formally listed on the roster of the Hong Kong bank, he did receive cash from BCCI, al-Mazrouie’s bank. An FBI wiretap of Hashemi’s office in early February 1981 picked up an advisory that “money from BCCI [is] to come in tomorrow from London on Concorde,” a reference to the supersonic commercial airliner favored by wealthy travelers. (In 1984, the Hong Kong Deposit and Guaranty collapsed and an estimated $100 million disappeared.)

Langley Meeting

Early in the Reagan-Bush administration, Joseph Reed, the aide to David Rockefeller, was appointed and confirmed as the new U.S. ambassador to Morocco. Before leaving for his posting, he visited the CIA and its new director, William Casey. As Reed arrived, CIA official Charles Cogan was getting up and preparing to leave Casey’s office.

Knowing Reed, Cogan lingered at the door. In a “secret” deposition to congressional investigators in 1992, Cogan said he had a “definite memory” of a comment Reed made about disrupting Carter’s “October Surprise” of a pre-election release of the 52 American hostages in Iran.

But Cogan said he couldn’t recall the precise verb that Reed had used. “Joseph Reed said, ‘we’ and then the verb [and then] something about Carter’s October Surprise,” Cogan testified. “The implication was we did something about Carter’s October Surprise, but I don’t have the exact wording.”

One congressional investigator, who discussed the recollection with Cogan in a less formal setting, concluded that the verb that Cogan chose not to repeat was an expletive relating to sex – as in “we fucked Carter’s October Surprise.”

During Cogan’s deposition, David Laufman, a Republican lawyer on the House October Surprise Task Force and a former CIA official, asked Cogan if he had since “had occasion to ask him [Reed] about this” recollection?

Yes, Cogan replied, he recently had asked Reed about it, after Reed moved to a protocol job at the United Nations. “I called him up,” Cogan said. “He was at his farm in Connecticut, as I recall, and I just told him that, look, this is what sticks in my mind and what I am going to say [to Congress], and he didn’t have any comment on it and continued on to other matters.”

“He didn’t offer any explanation to you of what he meant?” asked Laufman.

“No,” answered Cogan.

“Nor did he deny that he had said it?” asked another Task Force lawyer Mark L. Shaffer.

“He didn’t say anything,” Cogan responded. “We just continued on talking about other things.”

And so did the Task Force lawyers at this remarkable deposition on December 21, 1992. The lawyers even failed to ask Cogan the obvious follow-up: What did Casey say and how did Casey react when Reed allegedly told Reagan’s ex-campaign chief that “we fucked Carter’s October Surprise.”

Discovered Documents

I found Cogan’s testimony and other incriminating documents in files left behind by the Task Force, which finished its half-hearted investigation of the October Surprise controversy in January 1993.

Among those files, I also discovered the notes of an FBI agent who tried to interview Joseph Reed about his October Surprise knowledge. The FBI man, Harry A. Penich, had scribbled down that “numerous telephone calls were placed to him [Reed]. He failed to answer any of them. I conservatively place the number over 10.”

Finally, Penich, armed with a subpoena, cornered Reed arriving home at his 50-acre estate in Greenwich, Connecticut. “He was surprised and absolutely livid at being served at home,” Penich wrote. “His responses could best be characterized as lashing out.”

Reed threatened to go over Penich’s head. In hand-written “talking points” that Penich apparently used to brief an unnamed superior, the FBI agent wrote: “He [Reed] did it in such a way as to lead a reasonable person to believe he had influence w/you. The man’s remarks were both inappropriate and improper.”

But the hard-ball tactics worked. When Reed finally consented to an interview, Task Force lawyers just went through the motions.

Penich took the interview notes and wrote that Reed “recalls no contact with Casey in 1980,” though Reed added that “their paths crossed many times because of Reed’s position at Chase.” As for the 1981 CIA visit, Reed added that as the newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Morocco, he “would have stopped in to see Casey and pay respect.”

But on whether Reed made any remark about obstructing Carter’s October Surprise, Reed claimed he “does not specifically know what October Surprise refers to,” Penich scribbled down.

The Task Force lawyers didn’t press hard. Most strikingly, the lawyers failed to confront Reed with evidence that would have impeached his contention that he had “no contact with Casey in 1980.” According to the sign-in sheets at the Reagan-Bush campaign headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, which the Task Force had obtained, Reed saw Casey on September 11, 1980, less than two months before the election.

When the official House Task Force report was issued on January 13, 1993, the Task Force largely cleared the Republicans of the longstanding October Surprise charges, but that conclusion was based on tendentious interpretations of the published evidence and the withholding of many incriminating documents.

Among the evidence that was never shared with the American people was the fascinating connection between the powerful friends of David Rockefeller and the shadowy operatives who had maintained clandestine contacts with the Iranian mullahs during the long hostage crisis.