11. NORTH ACQUITTAL: ALL IN THE FAMILY
questions of conflict of interest should be raised in connection with the July
20, 1990, decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington to void the three-count
conviction of former White House aide Oliver North on charges stemming from the
Iran-contra scandal. Judge Laurence H. Silberman, a member of the three judge
panel that threw out the convictions, has ties to at least one of North's co-conspirators,
and participated in activities that closely paralleled and possibly even initiated
North's arms-for-hostages dealings.
Silberman's vote proved decisive in
the court's 2-1 ruling to throw out North's convictions.
A key Iran-contra figure linked to Silberman is Robert McFarlane, former-President
Reagan's National Security Advisor, and North's former boss. In the
fall of 1980, Silberman and McFarlane took part in a controversial meeting
to discuss the possible release of the 52 American hostages being held
in Teheran in exchange for U.S. military equipment. Silberman, at the
time, was a top advisor to the Reagan-Bush presidential campaign. McFarlane
was on the staff of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Also present
at the meeting was Richard Allen, Silberman's immediate superior and
chief foreign policy analyst for the Republican campaign, and another
man who claimed to be a representative of the Iranian government.
The four men met in the lobby of the L'Enfant Hotel in Washington,
D.C., shortly before the 1980 presidential election. Significant details
remain sketchy, however. "All I can remember was that there was
discussion about somehow releasing the hostages to the Reagan campaign
or under the auspices of the Reagan campaign ... humiliate Carter and
influence our election," Silberman told the San Jose Mercury News."
1988, Houshang Lavi, an Iranian-born arms dealer, stepped forward claiming to
be the "emissary" who met with Silberman, McFarlane, and Allen. Silberman
does not deny knowing Lavi, but in an interview in Newsday, he stated that he
was "sure" that Lavi was not the emissary at L'Enfant Plaza. After being
confronted with Lavi's notes from the meeting, however, Silberman downgraded his
disclaimer to being "virtually certain."
As we now know, both
Allen and McFarlane went on to become President Reagan's National Security Advisor,
and interestingly enough, Silberman went on to become the Reagan/Bush transition
team's liaison to the CIA during the period between the election and the inauguration
before being appointed to the federal judiciary by President Reagan in 1985.
this point, Judge Silberman, who made North's acquittal possible, isn't returning
phone calls, and independent counsel Lawrence Walsh has refused comment on the
matter. And so, it seems, has the press.
SSU CENSORED RESEARCHER: BILL GIBBONS
SOURCE: RANDOM LENGTHS, PO Box 731, San Pedro, CA 90733,
TITLE: "North Verdict Tainted"
AUTHOR: DAVID ARMSTRONG
COMMENTS: Investigative author David Armstrong, former editor
of Random Lengths and now editor of The Texas Observer, notes that the
conflict of interest issue in Oliver North's acquittal was not covered
at all in the mainstream media and suggests that the lack of coverage
was not accidental on the part of the media. "This cannot be regarded
as a simple oversight, however, since many publications -- including
the Washington Post and the San Jose Mercury News - had carried stories
detailing Silberman's involvement in the October Surprise negotiations
on previous occasions. Reporters at both the Los Angeles and New York
Times were also aware of Silberman's involvement in these meetings.
There can be no doubt about the fact that the decision to not cover
this aspect of the story was deliberate." Armstrong suggests that
"The primary beneficiaries of this cover-up are the military-industrial
complex and status quo politicians. The media's failure to expose Silberman's
conflict of interest, leads the public to believe that the decision
to overturn North's conviction was based on sound legal principle. The
overall message is that `everything's OK, the system's working perfectly.'
Whatever problems exist are the results of the excesses of a few miscreants
who have been identified and brought to justice. The systemic nature
of the problem is never revealed. The corporate media have willingly
perpetuated this fraud." According to Armstrong, "Wider exposure
of this story would allow the general public to see that the government's
handling of the entire Iran-contra scandal - from the Congressional
`investigation' to the Special Prosecutor's `criminal prosecution' --
has been a complete whitewash. There is little chance that the corporate
media will do anything to rectify the situation, however, since it has
been a party to this farce from the beginning."