In case you weren’t already aware of the October Surprise, here’s a bit of background.
In 1953, the CIA’s Operation Ajax unseated Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, and inserted the U.S. friendly Mohammed Reza Pahlavi as the Shah (ancestral Monarch). Mossadegh had to go because he was the chief architect of the nationalization of the Iranian oil industry, which was a serious bummer for the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Within a year of the coup, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company became British Petroleum (BP), who you may or may not have heard about recently due to a minor problem they’re experiencing in the Gulf of Mexico.
In January of 1979, the Iranians were fed up with the Shah and his western corporatist ways, so they had themselves a revolution, and Ayatollah Khomeini assumed power.
A bit later that same year, the deposed Shah was diagnosed with lymphoma, and he sought treatment in the U.S., which really annoyed the Iranian revolutionaries because the U.S. is Satan (their words), and generally had been meddling in their affairs for ages.
With all of that as the backdrop, on November 4, 1979, the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was seized by Iranian revolutionaries, and 66 U.S. citizens were taken hostage. A short time later, some of the hostages were released, but 52 of them remained for 444 days.
Jimmy Carter was President of the United States at the time, and he was running against Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush for reelection. In the weeks before the election, former CIA director Bush, along with William Casey (who became CIA Director under Reagan) and a rogues gallery of U.S. and Israeli intelligence assets met in secret with the Iranians and struck a deal that guaranteed that the hostages would NOT be released until AFTER Reagan was elected. In exchange, Iran was to receive 52 million in arms sales (Iran Contra), and Israel would get rid of Carter, who had the audacity to force them to concede Sinai back to Egypt, and was about to put a serious cramp in their occupation of … oops, I mean their settlements in the West Bank.
This secret agreement is known as the October Surprise, but it’s generally been resigned, by an obedient press corps, to the wacky conspiracy theory file of history. After all, we can’t have people believing that America the beautiful would ever involve itself in such chicanery.
And now that you’re up to speed, I’m presenting a far more detailed article by the George Polk Award winning Robert Parry. He connects a lot of the dots that rarely get connected, so set aside 15 or 20 minutes of your time and dig in.
By Robert Parry (A Special Report)
June 24, 2010
As the Official Story of the 1980 October Surprise case crumbles – with new revelations that key evidence was hidden from investigators of a congressional task force and that internal doubts were suppressed – history must finally confront the troubling impression that remains: that disgruntled elements of the CIA and Israel’s Likud hardliners teamed up to remove a U.S. president from office.
Indeed, it is this disturbing conclusion – perhaps even more than the idea of a Republican dirty trick – that may explain the longstanding and determined cover-up of this political scandal.
Too many powerful interests do not want the American people to accept even the possibility that U.S. intelligence operatives and a longtime ally could intervene to oust a president who had impinged on what those two groups considered their vital interests.
To accept that scenario would mean that two of the great fears of American democracy had come true – George Washington’s warning against the dangers of “entangling alliances” and Harry Truman’s concern that the clandestine operations of the CIA had the makings of an “American Gestapo.”
It is far easier to assure the American people that no such thing could occur, that Israel’s Likud – whatever its differences with Washington over Middle East peace policies – would never seek to subvert a U.S. president, and that CIA dissidents – no matter how frustrated by political constraints – would never sabotage their own government.
But the evidence points in that direction, and there are some points that are not in dispute. For instance, there is no doubt that CIA Old Boys and Likudniks had strong motives for seeking President Jimmy Carter’s defeat in 1980.
Inside the CIA, Carter and his CIA Director Stansfield Turner were blamed for firing many of the free-wheeling covert operatives from the Vietnam era, for ousting legendary spymaster Ted Shackley, and for failing to protect longtime U.S. allies (and friends of the CIA), such as Iran’s Shah and Nicaragua’s dictator Anastasio Somoza.
As for Israel, Likud Prime Minister Menachem Begin was furious over Carter’s high-handed actions at Camp David in 1978 forcing Israel to trade the occupied Sinai to Egypt for a peace deal. Begin feared that Carter would use his second term to bully Israel into accepting a Palestinian state on West Bank lands that Likud considered part of Israel’s divinely granted territory.
Former Mossad and Foreign Ministry official David Kimche described Begin’s attitude in his 1991 book, The Last Option, saying that Israeli officials had gotten wind of “collusion” between Carter and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat “to force Israel to abandon her refusal to withdraw from territories occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem, and to agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state.”
Kimche continued, “This plan – prepared behind Israel’s back and without her knowledge – must rank as a unique attempt in United States’s diplomatic history of short-changing a friend and ally by deceit and manipulation.”
However, Begin recognized that the scheme required Carter winning a second term in 1980 when, Kimche wrote, “he would be free to compel Israel to accept a settlement of the Palestinian problem on his and Egyptian terms, without having to fear the backlash of the American Jewish lobby.”
In his 1992 memoir, Profits of War, Ari Ben-Menashe, an Israeli military intelligence officer who worked with Likud, agreed that Begin and other Likud leaders held Carter in contempt.
“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.”
So, in order to buy time for Israel to “change the facts on the ground” by moving Jewish settlers into the West Bank, Begin felt Carter’s reelection had to be prevented. A different president also presumably would give Israel a freer hand to deal with problems on its northern border with Lebanon.
Much more at the link.