Transcript: Barbara Honegger, "October Surprise", Apr 25 2006
Vice President Dick Cheney has hired Iran-Contra arms dealer and discredited intelligence asset Manucher Ghorbanifar as his "man on the ground" in Iran. Barbara Honegger wrote about him in her book, "October Surprise: Did the Reagan-Bush election campaign sabotage President Carter's attempts to free the American hostages in Iran?"
Thom Hartmann interview with Barbara Honegger 25 April 2006
[Thom Hartmann] Back on the 20th of April Larisa Alexandrovna wrote in Raw Story an article, the headline, "Cheney has tapped Iranian expatriate, arms dealer to surveil discussions with Iran, officials say". She writes, "The Department of Defense and Vice President Dick Cheney have retained the services of Iran-Contra arms dealer and discredited intelligence asset Manucher Ghorbanifar as their "man on the ground," in order to report on any interaction and attempts at negotiations between Iranian officials and US ambassador to Iraq, Zelmay Khalilzad, current and former intelligence officials say." So in other words, Cheney and Rummy have hired this guy, Ghorbanifar, to monitor our ambassador to Iraq and make sure he doesn't talk to Iran. What's the deal?
[Thom Hartmann] So I immediately said, "I recognize this name", and I've either talked with Barbara Honegger about it or read about it her book, "October Surprise: Did the Reagan-Bush election campaign sabotage President Carter's attempts to free the American hostages in Iran? One of the finest books. I just, you know, I can't tell you, you've got to, there are used copies floating around the web; get a copy of this book October Surprise by Barbara Honegger. She, in 1980, following her experience as a research assistant at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, she joined the research policy team of the Reagan-Bush campaign. In 1980, she was part of the Reagan-Bush presidential transition team. In '81, she worked in the White House Office of Policy Development as a research and Policy analyst. Later worked with the Department of Justice and then later became a whistleblower and wrote the book that told the story of the October Surprise. Barbara Honegger, welcome to the program.
[Barbara Honegger] Hi, Thom!
[Thom Hartmann] Great to have you on again, Barbara.
[Barbara Honegger] Great to be here, Thom.
[Thom Hartmann] Pardon?
[Barbara Honegger] Great to be here.
[Thom Hartmann] Oh, thank you, thank you. Tell me, you know, let's get into this story, who is, is it [pronounced] Manucher Ghorbanifar?
[Barbara Honegger] Well, your guess is as good as mine, but I've heard that it is Manucher Ghorbanifar.
[Thom Hartmann] OK, Manucher Ghorbanifar. Who is this guy and why have we hired him to watch Zalmay Khalilzad, our ambassador to Iraq?
[Barbara Honegger] Well, Manucher Ghorbanifar, for those who remember anything about the Iran-Contra scandal, the Iran side of the Iran-Contra scandal, will remember that Manucher Ghorbanifar was the ultimate disinformation agent who worked with Michael Ledeen and Oliver North and company to arrange the secret and illegal arms shipment to Iran.
[Thom Hartmann] This is in '86, right?
[Barbara Honegger] That is in the mid 1980s, yes. The first big meeting was in April, May period of 1986, that's correct.
[Thom Hartmann] And this was presumably part of the payoff for Iran having held the hostages so that Jimmy Carter would lose the election and Bush and Reagan would become Vice President and President.
[Barbara Honegger] Well, that particular meeting probably wasn't. However, the Iran arms sales that surfaced in the Iran side of the Iran-Contra scandal were indeed the tip of the iceberg of just a few hundreds of million dollars of illegal arms shipments to Iran. That was just the tip of the iceberg of literally billions that started flowing right after Reagan took the oath of office.
[Thom Hartmann] Right, which was the payoff.
[Barbara Honegger] Which, in turn, was the payoff.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah.
[Barbara Honegger] The earlier shipment.
[Thom Hartmann] So, why have we hired a guy who was a neo-con or Ollie North, I mean this was before the word neo-con was being used.
[Barbara Honegger] A neo conman, literally, yes.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah. You know, a guy, you know, the Karl Rove of the Middle East, I guess, you know. A disinformation specialist. Manucher Ghorbanifar, why have we hired him to watch over our ambassador? Now, Zalmay Khalilzad, our ambassador to Iraq, has his own weird history with Osama bin Laden, doesn't he?
[Barbara Honegger] Yes he does. According to what I believe is a authoritative summary on the Internet of the background of Mr. Khalilzad who, by the way, was our first ambassador to Afghanistan, just before becoming our ambassador to Iraq, which he is today. Mr. Khalilzad, according to this bio, was a personal liaison to Osama bin Laden himself during the Soviet period in Afghanistan, basically a bagman.
[Thom Hartmann] This is back when bin Laden was our guy. He was working for us.
[Barbara Honegger] That's correct. When bin Laden was our man in Afghanistan, correct.
[Thom Hartmann] To throw the Soviets out of Afghanistan.
[Barbara Honegger] So Mr. Khalilzad knows Mr. bin Laden personally.
[Thom Hartmann] Not a good thing.
[Barbara Honegger] Not a good thing. And you asked the question, why would we hire Mr. Ghorbanifar? It's very interesting. To me, what it says is, if true, what it says is that Condoleezza Rice, obviously Khalilzad is a U.S. Ambassador and reports to Rice, the Secretary of State. This implies to me that Cheney and Rumsfeld do not trust Rice, and/or do not trust Rice and Khalilzad. In other words, they've put Ghorbanifar there, spy and disinformation agent con man, to watch Rice's man, Khalilzad.
[Thom Hartmann] So they've brought Ollie North's old guy in to watch over Condi Rice and her person.
[Barbara Honegger] Right.
[Thom Hartmann] That's very interesting.
[Barbara Honegger] Yes it is.
[Thom Hartmann] And what are they watching over? Is this like set up for the bombing of Iran in September or October? Or is this, you know, are they trying to secrets keep from leaking? I mean, what's, why?
[Barbara Honegger] Well, you're asking for an educated guess.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah.
[Barbara Honegger] But I have reason to believe that the plan, whether it is ever, whether it is actually carried out or not, that the plan to take military action, at least covert military action against Iran, has been part of the plan since before Bush even became president.
[Thom Hartmann] Just like the invasion of Iraq was.
[Barbara Honegger] Exactly. The next domino to fall, as it were.
[Thom Hartmann] Right. This is all, establish a footprint in the Middle East, take the, well Iran, when we invaded Iraq, back, you know, three years ago now, Dick Cheney was running around, you know, talking about the amount of oil in Iraq and all that kind of thing. I mean, here's "Iraq sits on top of ten percent of the world's oil reserves. Very significant reserves. Second only to Saudi Arabia" [audio clip of Dick Cheney]. And now they're saying Iran sits on top of the second largest oil reserves in the world, ten percent of the world's, you know, second only to Saudi Arabia. Iraq doesn't have quite as much as we thought.
[Barbara Honegger] Right. Right. And you've noticed that the Iraqi oil that was supposed to be flowing like a spigot and paying for this occupation and reconstruction hasn't materialized.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah.
[Barbara Honegger] And now we have a broken record; they are saying exactly the same things about Iran as they did Iraq pre invasion of Iraq.
[Thom Hartmann] And Bush actually thinks, apparently, you know, I mean, this is, I've talked to several people now in the military, and people who are talking to people in the federal government who say that, apparently, the guys in the Bush administration, you know, Josh Bolten, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, they really think that the American people will, if they bomb Iran, if they start a war with Iran, will rally round the president.
[Barbara Honegger] I think that's absurd.
[Thom Hartmann] I think it's absurd too but do you think that they think that?
[Barbara Honegger] No, I don't think that they think that. I think they don't give a damn.
[Thom Hartmann] So, why invade Iran?
[Barbara Honegger] Excuse me?
[Thom Hartmann] So, why invade Iran?
[Barbara Honegger] Well, it's not clear that they intend to invade Iran in any conventional sense. I mean, as you probably know and have already told your listeners, there are a number of reports that U.S. covert operations, special forces, etc. are already on the ground in Iran.
[Thom Hartmann] Yes, just as they were in Iraq before we invaded Iraq.
[Barbara Honegger] Exactly. Exactly. So, depending upon what the game plan is, unless it's blocked or stopped by concerted and organized citizen action, the plan may be focused on covert operations, which often include sabotage operations.
[Thom Hartmann] Interesting. We're talking, by the way, with Barbara Honegger. She's the author of "October Surprise", a book that came out many years ago and is still, in my opinion, one of the very finest books. Not just one of the very finest books written in the last couple of decades, but certainly the best overview of the Reagan-Bush election campaign sabotage efforts against Jimmy Carter's presidency. And I [?] the efforts were successful.
[Barbara Honegger] By the way Thom...
[Thom Hartmann] Yes, Barbara.
[Barbara Honegger] I would just like to mention for your listeners, I think it's very important and interesting, that Michael Ledeen has a long history of being directly, personally linked to Manucher Ghorbanifar.
[Thom Hartmann] Right.
[Barbara Honegger] For instance...
[Thom Hartmann] Now, who is Michael Ledeen, broadly, for our listeners?
[Barbara Honegger] Well, that's very interesting. Michael Ledeen is a member of the PNAC cabal; the Perle, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld...
[Thom Hartmann] Project for the New American Century, PNAC.
[Barbara Honegger] Yes, the Project for the New American Century. The people who called for a new Pearl Harbor before 9/11. And of course, 9/11 was then called the new Pearl Harbor by George Bush himself the day of 9/11.
[Thom Hartmann] In his diary.
[Barbara Honegger] In his diary. So, Michael Ledeen has also been called, in articles on the Internet about his background, he's been called Karl Rove's Karl Rove. In other words, he is an advisor to Karl Rove, God help us. Michael Ledeen has been personally linked in operations, disinformation operations, with Manucher Ghorbanifar going all the way back to the Iran-Contra period. So this is nothing new. And as your readers who have been following the New York Times coverage, etcetera, they already know that a number of top officials from the current Bush-Cheney administration met with [Tramdi?], Perle, Ledeen, PNAC cabal, run essentially out of the Vice President Cheney's office in the Pentagon.
[Thom Hartmann] Amazing. Barbara, can I ask you to hold for just a minute and we can wrap this up on the other side of this break? We have to take a commercial break here. Can you stick around?
[Barbara Honegger] OK.
[Thom Hartmann] We're talking with Barbara Honegger. She's the author of "October Surprise".
[Thom Hartmann] We're talking with Barbara Honegger. She's the author of "October Surprise", a book that has been out of print for quite some time but you can still find used copies floating around the internet. It's about the Reagan-Bush election campaign's attempt to sabotage Jimmy Carter's attempts to free the American hostages in Iran, and thus Reagan-Bush's efforts to, successful efforts, I should say, to win the election in 1980 and a brilliant book. Barbara, is there a web site or is there any good source, resource, for people who want to, just kind of get back into your book and this kind of stuff?
[Barbara Honegger] Oh, absolutely, yes. consortiumnews I believe it's .org [.com], that's Bob Parry's web site. Does that ring a bell, Robert Parry?
[Thom Hartmann] Oh yea. Yep.
[Barbara Honegger] On Bob Parry's web site. Bob Parry published the third book on October Surprise; mine was the first, two years later Gary Sick's by the same title, "October Surprise". And about the same time, a little after, Robert Parry, former top reporter for UPI Newsweek. In fact, Robert Parry broke the Iran-Contra affair scandal in Newsweek. Bob Parry published a book called "Trick or Treason: The October Surprise Mystery", in which he also concerned the October Surprise working with Brian Ross of ABC News. And in Bob Parry's web site, consortiumnews I believe it's .org, could be .net, could be .com [.com], go to the October Surprise X files, that's x-files, and read the formerly classified documents that the House October Surprise investigations classified and hid away but was then leaked out to Bob Parry and he's now got them on the Internet, proving the October Surprise.
[Thom Hartmann] Great. Marvelous. Now, back to what we were talking about here, we have...
[Barbara Honegger] You need to speak up.
[Thom Hartmann] Sure, I'm sorry. Back to what we were talking about here, Zalmay Khalilzad, the, our ambassador to Iraq, according to one former intelligence source speaking to Larisa Alexandrovna at Raw Story said he has been authorized to enter into discussions with Iran over the stability inside Iraq. Now, we have a largely Sunni government coming into, or excuse me, a largely Shia government coming into control of Iraq. Is this, could, is it possible, Barbara Honegger, that instead of setting up an attack on Iran, that instead we are setting up Iran to essentially take over Iraq in a way that, you know, if it's stable, and they keep out of our hair, that's fine? You know, sort of like we always said, you know, the guy may be an SOB but he's our SOB, about our various dictators. I mean, that's what we said about Saddam Hussein up until 1991.
[Barbara Honegger] Well, you're asking for an informed opinion. I don't think so. I really think this administration, and particularly Vice President Cheney, is apoplectic about Iran. I think that they really are against this Iranian regime. I don't think it's faked.
[Thom Hartmann] So, Ghorbanifar, where has Ghorbanifar been for the last 25 years or so?
[Barbara Honegger] Well, as I mentioned before your last break, and perhaps that got cut off, so I'll just repeat it briefly in summary. Manucher Ghorbanifar has been reported in the New York Times, Washington Post, etcetera as having met with Richard Perle, Larry Franklin (the Iran expert from the DIA that was on loan to fight the number 3 guy at the Pentagon under Rumsfeld), meeting with these people on Iran, on intelligence about Iran and Iraq in the run up to the Iran-Iraq war. And in fact, Ghorbanifar and Chalabi were the two main sources of disinformation, disinformation about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
[Thom Hartmann] So, we're back to Chalabi. But Chalabi is also very, very tight with Iran and Ghorbanifar is tight with Iran. I mean it's...
[Barbara Honegger] Yes, they both are. Ghorbanifar was born in Iran.
[Thom Hartmann] So, so why would we bring him into an operation to overthrow, well I guess just because somebody's from a country doesn't mean they are loyal to it.
[Barbara Honegger] I'm sorry, I couldn't hear that.
[Thom Hartmann] I said, I guess just because somebody's from a country doesn't mean they are loyal to it. I mean, Ghorbanifar was born in Iran. Still, he's our guy, working for us, is that the deal?
[Barbara Honegger] Well, it depends upon who you mean by 'us'. But it's clear that Mr. Ghorbanifar is working for the PNAC neo-con conmen cabal.
[Thom Hartmann] So these guys have not been discredited. Wolfowitz is now head of the World Bank, the rest of them still have positions of power. It sounds like what you're saying, Barbara Honegger, is that the Project for the New American Century, the neo-cons, are still running U.S. foreign policy.
[Barbara Honegger] Yes they are, and Mr. Ghorbanifar is their man.
[Thom Hartmann] And he's helping organize this stuff within the Bush administration. Remarkable.
[Barbara Honegger] Well, he is essentially, as the article said, and I believe it's true, is a spy for these people. Yes, and what's interesting is he's a spy for the Cheney/Rumsfeld/Perle/Wolfowitz cabal against Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State's man in Iraq.
[Thom Hartmann] Now, Condi Rice has a lot of personal loyalty from and to George W. Bush.
[Barbara Honegger] Yes, that's correct.
[Thom Hartmann] Is Bush the odd man out in this thing?
[Barbara Honegger] Well, what it feels like to me is there may be a difference of opinion between the office of the President and the office of the Vice President.
[Thom Hartmann] Hmm. And in that collision, it seems that probably the office of the Vice President would win?
[Barbara Honegger] [laughter]
[Thom Hartmann] Hard to say, right?
[Barbara Honegger] That remains to be seen. He certainly won out in the first...
[Thom Hartmann] With regard to Iraq.
[Barbara Honegger] ... on Iraq, yes.
[Thom Hartmann] Absolutely. Barbara Honegger, thanks for being with us. Her book "October Surprise", track down a used copy if you can find it. It's marvelous. Barbara Honegger.