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Reagan Aides and the Secret Government - The Miami Herald -July 5, 1987

Reagan Aides and the Secret Government - The Miami Herald -July 5, 1987

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Published by: Josef Wäges on Dec 30, 2009
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12/06/2012

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260 PAGES
By ALFONSO CHARDY
Herald
Washington
Unreal.
WASHINGTON — Some of PresidentReagan's top advisers have operated avirtual parallel government outside thetraditional Cabinet departments and agen-cies almost from the day Reagan tookoffice, congressional investigators andadministration officials have concluded.Investigators believe that the advisers'
•activities
extended well beyond the secretarms sales to Iran and aid to the contrasnow under investigation.Lt. Col. Oliver North, for example,helped draw up a controversial plan tosuspend the Constitution in the event of anational crisis, such as nuclear war,violent and widespread internal dissent ornational opposition to a U.S. militaryinvasion abroad.When the attorney general at the time,William French Smith, learned of theproposal, he protested in writing toNorth's boss, then-national security advis-er Robert McFarlane.The advisers conducted their activitiesthrough secret contacts throughout thegovernment with persons who acted attheir direction but did not officially reportto them.The activities of those contacts werecoordinated by the National SecurityCouncil, the officials and investigatorssaid.There appears to have been no formaldirective for the
advisers'
activities,which knowledgeable sources describedas a parallel government.In a secret assessment of the activities,the lead counsel for the Senate Iran-con-tra committee called it a "secret govern-
ment-
within-a-government."The arrangement permitted Reaganadministration officials to claim that theywere not involved in controversial orillegal activities, the officials said."It was the ultimate plausible deniabil-ity," said a well-briefed official who hasserved the Reagan administration since1982 and who often collaborated oncovert assistance to the Nicaraguan
coniras.
The roles of top-level officials and ofReagan himself are still not clear. But thatis expected to be a primary topic whenNorth appears before the Iran-contracommittees- beginning Tuesday. Special
prosecutor
Lawrence Walsh also is be-lieved to be trying to prove in hisinvestigation of the Iran-contra affair thatgovernment officials engaged in a crimi-nal conspiracy.Much of the time, Cabinet secretaries
Please
turn to
COVERT
su
Reagan aides and t
 
ami
Herald
NDAY, JULY
5,
1987
F
I
Contents Copyright'
1987
The Miami Herald
75 CENTS
he
'secret'
government
PRINCIPALS
WilliamClark:
Allowedbigger Northrole at NSC.
WilliamCasey:
Keptguard onPresidentCarter.
SOME SECRET
ACTIVITIES
Sources say the parallel
government
behind the Reaganadministration engaged in secret actions including:
A CONTINGENCY
plan to suspend Constitution and impose
martiai iaw
in United States in case of nuclear war or national
rebellion.
1985 VISIT
to Libya by William
Wilson,
then U.S. ambassador toVatican and close Reagan
friend,
to meet with Libyan leader
Col.
Moammar Gadhafi.
HAVING ROUTES
of sophisticated surveillance satellites alteredto follow Soviet ships around world.
LAUNCHING
of spy aircraft on secret missions over Cuba andNicaragua.
PROPOSAL
in
1981
to provide covert support of anti-Sandinistagroups that fled Nicaragua after Sandinista revolution in 1979.
DISSEMINATION
of information that cast Nicaragua as threat toneighbors and United States.Before Reagan was
elected,
campaign aides who became thepresident's top advisers carried out these secret activities:
CREATION
in 1980 of October Surprise Group to monitorPresident Carter's negotiations with Iran for release of 52American hostages. Group met with man who claimed torepresent iran and who offered to release hostages to Reagan.Offer declined, officials say.
ACQUISITION
of stolen confidential briefing materials fromCarter's campaign before Oct.
28,
1980. Carter-Reagandebate.
 
Advisers formed
shadow
COVERT
/from
IA
and their aides were
Unaware
of the advisers' activities.When they periodically detectedoperations, they complained ortried to derail them,
Interviews
show.But no one ever questioned theactivities in a broad way, possiblyout of a belief that the adviserswere operating with presidentialsanction, officials said.Reagan did know of or approveat least some of the actions of
the
secret group, according to previ-ous accounts by aides, friends andhigh-ranking foreign officials.One such case is the 1985 visitto Libya by William Wilson,
then-U.S.
ambassador to the Vati-can and a close Reagan friend, tomeet with Libyan leader Col.
Moammar
Gadhafi, officials saidlast week. Secretary of StateGeorge Shultz rebuked Wilson,but the officials said Reagan knewof the trip in advance.The heart of the secret structurefrom 1983 to 1986 was North'soffice in the Old Executive OfficeBuilding adjacent to the WhiteHouse, investigators believe.North's influence within thesecret structure was so great, thesources said, that he was able tohave the orbits of sophisticatedsurveillance satellites altered tofollow Soviet ships around theworld,
call
for the launching ofhigh-flying spy aircraft on secretmissions over Cuba and Nicaraguaand become involved in sensitivedomestic activities.
Many
initiatives
Others in the structure includedsome of Reagan's closest friendsand advisers, including formernational security adviser WilliamClark, the late
CFA
Director Wil-liam Casey and Attorney GeneralEdwin Meese, officials and investi-gators said.Congressional investigators saidthe Iran deal was just one of thegroup's initiatives. They say expo-sure of the unusual arrangementmay be the legacy of their inquiry."After we establish that a policydecision was made at the highestlevels to transfer responsibility forcontra support to the NSC ..., wefavor examining how that decisionwas implemented," wrote ArthurLiman, chief counsel of the Senatecommittee, in a secret memoran-dum to panel leaders Sens. DanielInouye, D-Hawaii, and WarrenRudman,R-N.H., before hearingsbegan May 5."This is the part of the storythat reveals the whole secret
government-within-a-government,
operated from the [Executive Of-fice Building) by a Lt. Col., with
Its
own army, air force, diplomaticagents, intelligence operatives andappropriations capacity," Limanwrote in the memo, parts of whichwere shared with The Herald.A spokesman for Liman declinedcomment but did not dispute thememo's existence.A White House official rejectedthe notion that any of Reagan'sadvisers were operating secretly."The president has constantlyexpressed
his
foreign policy posi-tions to the public and hasconsulted with the Congress," theofficial said.
Began in 1980
Congressional investigators andcurrent and former officials inter-viewed — members of the CFA,State Department and Pentagon said they still do not have a fullrecord of the impact of theadvisers' activities.But based on investigations andpersonal experience, they believethe secret governing arrangementtraces its roots to the last weeks ofReagan's
1980
campaign.Officials say the genesis mayhave been an October 1980 deci-sion by Casey, Reagan's campaignmanager and a former officer inthe World War FF precursor of theCIA, to create an October SurpriseGroup to monitor Jimmy Carter'sfeverish negotiations with Iran forthe release of 52 American hostag-
es.
The group, led by campaignforeign policy adviser RichardAllen,was founded out of concernCarter might pull off an "Octobersurprise" such as a last-minute

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