Remember Ronald Reagan's October Surprise? It Never Happened.





Mr. Pipes is the director of the Middle East Forum. His website address is http://www.danielpipes.org.

The October Surprise conspiracy theory holds that in October 1980, Ronald Reagan conspired with the Islamic Republic of Iran to beat Jimmy Carter in the U.S. presidential elections on 4 November . The deal: in return for the Khomeini government keeping its U.S. hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran until after the election, damaging the Carter's candidacy, Reagan would reward it with armaments. The conspiracy theory endured for over a decade, from 1980-93, but has since disappeared.

The idea originated with Lyndon LaRouche, one of the most prolific, original, and bizarre of U.S. conspiracy theorists. Just after the 1980 election, one LaRouche magazine ( Executive Intelligence Review , 2 December 1980) first laid out the conspiracy theory, then another one repeated it three years later ( New Solidarity , 2 September 1983). The idea attracted minimal attention, however, until the Iran-Contra scandal of late 1986 seemed to fulfill the terms of the alleged deal. The former president of Iran, Abol Hassan Bani Sadr, tentatively tried out this theory in an article on 12 April 1987 in the Miami Herald . When commentators in the United States (Christopher Hitchens in particular, writing in The Nation , 4-11 July 1987) endorsed the idea, Bani Sadr felt emboldened to make ever-larger and more elaborate claims (the New York Times , 3 August 1987; the Miami Herald , 9 August 1987; and an August 1987 interview [Cockburn, 192-3; 281]).

A handful of conspiracy theorists in the United States (Barbara Honegger, Martin Kilian, David Marks, Robert Parry, Jurgen Roth, and Craig Unger) began researching Bani Sadr's allegations and stumbled upon an array of self-promoters, con men, and criminals from several countries. The cast included Israelis (Ari Ben-Menashe, Ahran Moshell, and Will Northrop), Frenchmen (Robert Benes and Nicholas Ignatiew), Iranians (Jamshid Hashemi, Ahmed Heidari, Houshang Lavi, Hamid Naqashan), Americans (Richard Babayan, Richard Brenneke, William Herrmann, Oswald LeWinter, Heinrich Rupp and Gunther Russbacher), and even a South African (Dirk Stoffberg). Not only did they confirm the story and add their own elaborations, but the researchers carelessly contaminated their sources by informing them of others' statements, further stimulating them to grandiose claims.

After a year, Bani Sadr returned to the topic and found his conspiracy outline fully fleshed out; he was especially impressed by Brenneke's allegations at a 1988 trial in Denver, which in his eyes offered official documentation of the plot. Encouraged by this new information, the former Iranian president now hypothesized a much larger and longer-lasting conspiracy between Reagan and Khomeini ( Playboy , September 1988; and the interviews he granted to Jean-Charles Deniau in September and October 1988, forming the basis of their joint book [Deniau and Sadr, 48; 57]).

Although the October Surprise theory had now ripened, it remained the guilty pleasure of die-hard conspiracy theorists. Only when the New York Times on 15 April 1991 devoted an exceptional two-thirds of its opinion page to this thesis did it become a public issue. The author of this article, Gary Sick, brought to the issue an establishment pedigree (navy captain, Columbia University Ph.D., Ford Foundation program officer, Human Rights Watch board member) as well as the credibility of having served as principal White House aide for Iran during the Iranian Revolution and the hostage crisis. Sick alleged that"individuals associated with the Reagan-Bush campaign of 1980 met secretly with Iranian officials to delay the release of the American hostages until after the U.S. election. For this favor, Iran was rewarded with a substantial supply of arms from Israel." Sick also raised the possibility that George Bush was one of those Americans, thereby impugning the legitimacy of at least one subsequent Republican president.

The October Surprise instantly vaulted to national importance. Leading television shows devoted hours to the subject, weeklies made it the subject of cover stories, and Jimmy Carter called for an investigation. A January 1992 poll showed 55 percent of Americans believing these allegations to be true and just 34 percent finding them false (Goertzel, 733). As part of his preparations to run for the presidency, H. Ross Perot sent his associates to talk with Gunther Russbacher in his Missouri jail cell. WSJ 14 Apr 92 In February 1992, the House of Representatives voted in favor of an investigation of the chargesNYT 6 Feb 92 and the Senate followed suit soon after.

Sick himself expanded his op-ed into a 278-page book, October Surprise: America's Hostages in Iran and the Election of Ronald Reagan . Here, Sick characterized the 1980 election as a" covert political coup." To give his story the feel of authenticity so important to a conspiracy theory, he chronicled in loving detail events that (it turned out) never took place. Thus, discussing a phantom meeting in Madrid on 27 July 1980, for example, he provided this little touch:"The conversation was interrupted twice, when hotel waiters arrived to serve coffee" (Sick, 83).

So much attention to the October Surprise theory meant it had to be checked in sober and exhaustive detail, and under such scrutiny it promptly collapsed. Several journalistic investigations started the process, especially Frank Snepp,"Brenneke Exposed," Village Voice, 10 September 1991; John Barry,"Making of a Myth," Newsweek , 11 November 1991; Steve Emerson and Jesse Furman,"The Conspiracy That Wasn't," New Republic , 18 November 1991; and Frank Snepp,"October Surmise," Village Voice , 25 February 1992.

Two congressional inquiries then confirmed these conclusions. The Senate stated that"by any standard, the credible evidence now known falls far short of supporting the allegation of an agreement between the Reagan campaign and Iran to delay the release of the hostages" (Committee on Foreign Relations 1992, 115). The House report went further, declaring that"There was no October Surprise agreement ever reached." It found"wholly insufficient credible evidence" that communication took place between the Reagan campaign and the Iranian government and"no credible evidence" of an attempt by the campaign to delay the hostages' release. The report also expressed concern that" certain witnesses may have committed perjury during sworn testimony" (Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union 53; 7-8; 239).

Surprisingly, given that once started, conspiracy theories tend to live on indefinitely, this one did not. For once, research successfully discredited a conspiracy theory. Symbolic of this was that Oliver Stone decided not to make a movie on this topic. But a devout conspiracy theorist sticks to his guns and Sick continued to forward the October Surprise thesis, writing ( the New York Times, 24 January 1993) that the House report"does not lay . . . to rest" his claims of campaign contacts with Iranians; and that it"leaves open the possibility" of Republican interference with the Carter administration's foreign policy negotiations.

The October Surprise episode holds much interest as a conspiracy theory case study. In particular, two features stand out: Gary Sick's having single-handedly transformed it from a story only taken seriously on the left-wing fringe into a credible mainstream claim; and the clarity with which it confirmed the conspiracy theorists' tendency to accuse others of what they themselves are doing. On this latter point: again and again, one finds that whereas the conspiracy theorists' accusations of collusion and illegal behavior were unsubstantiated, they themselves engaged in precisely such behavior . Examples include:

  • They claimed Casey and Bush pretended to be in the United States when they were in Paris and Madrid. Richard Brenneke, perhaps the single most important informant for the October Surprise thesis, claimed to be in Paris and Madrid when credit card receipts proved he was in Portland, Oregon.

  • They accused Reagan campaign officials of plotting to save their necks, when this is what the conspiracy theorists were doing; at least seven of them (Robert Benes, Richard Brenneke, Ahmed Heidari, Nicholas Ignatiew, Oswald LeWinter, Hamid Naqashan and Will Northrop) were implicated in a 1986 sting operation and the October Surprise offered a way to rehabilitate their reputations.

  • Sick, a former Carter Administration official, accused the Reagan campaign of secretly working out an arms deal with the Iranians. In fact, as Sick himself already disclosed in 1985, Jimmy Carter initiated such a deal.

  • Sick accused others of withholding information, yet this is precisely what he did, keeping quiet about the hundreds of thousands of dollars he received from Oliver Stone for the movie rights to the October Surprise story.

  • Sick accused U.S. government officials of lying, yet he was less than honest himself. He wrote in his New York Times article that he had heard rumors of a Reagan-Khomeini deal during the 1988 election campaign but he"refused to believe them." Not so: on 30, Oct. 1988, at the very peak of the 1988 election campaign, he told The Rocky Mountain News ,"At first I dismissed this, but not any more. I'm convinced on the basis of what I heard that there were some meetings in Paris."

References

Cockburn, Leslie. 1987, Out of Control . New York: The Atlantic Monthly Press.
Deniau, Jean-Charles, and Bani Sadr. 1987. Le Complot des ayatollahs . Paris: Editions la Découverte.
Goertzel, Ted. 1994."Belief in Conspiracy Theories." Political Psychology 15.
Sick, Gary. 1991. October Surprise: America's Hostages in Iran and the Election of Ronald Reagan . New York: Times Books.
U.S. House. 1993. Committee of the Whole House on the Steven Emerson,"No October Surprise" American Journalism Review (March 1993) http://eightiesclub.tripod.com/id394.htm
State of the Union. Joint Report of the Task Force to Investigate Certain Allegations Concerning the Holding of American Hostages by Iran in 1980 . Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
U.S. Senate. 1992. Committee on Foreign Relations. The"October Surprise" Allegations and the Circumstances Surrounding the Release of the American Hostages Held in Iran. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.


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Eric D. Roddie - 8/2/2004

I guess that's why Kerry and Bush are neck-and-neck in the polls.

And that's a nice quote by Mr. Vidal, but isn't he the same guy who thinks that Bush ALLOWED 9/11 to happen so that he could pretend that the conflict in the Middle East was about terror, when it's really about OIIILLLLLLLLLLL. Didn't he also collaborate with hysterically anti-Bush actor Tim Robbins on some film? Gimme an effing break. FDR knew about Pearl Harbor, the Mafia assasinated JFK, Reagan and Bush delayed the hostage release so they could win, and Bush-43 wanted 9/11 to happen. That poor Jimmy Carter was really the greatest president, he just had bad luck and was the victim of a massive plot by the Reagan cabal. Poor ol' Jimmah. Just a good ol' Georgian, forced out of office by a coup.

And correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't there Democratic majorities in Congress in '92? I suppose there might have been Republican majorities on specific investigation committees. But even if that's the case, what did Democrats have to say about this conspiracy theory? Did they endorse it? Somehow I doubt it. People who attack improbable-sounding theories are not necessarily right-wing apologists, nor are supporters of theories leftists (well, actually, they are most of the time...but anyway...)


Jerry Lee Bowyer - 6/6/2004

thanks for reminding me that the nusto screeching left also hated Reagan and not just Bush.


David Gerald Southcomb - 4/11/2004

The Consortium website DOES NOT represent a myth and the fact that Ralph Nader has called for George W. Bush's impeachment, and John Dean, Nixon's Counsel, has called the George W. Bush Administration the MOST corrupt one in modern American history illustrates that not only Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush SHOULD BE in federal prison, but so SHOULD George W. Bush and Dick Cheney!!!

They are all "cut out" of the same cloth and the American people are finally "waking up and smelling the coffee"!!! The disastrous recent events in Iraq in recent days, combined with the lies that led us there, and a failed economy that have seen MORE people lose jobs to the Republican "build your economy for the rich only," will lead to the GREATEST Democratic landslide since Lyndon Johnson in 1964!!!

Americans have had their bellyfull of Republicans, and outside of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Gerald Ford, the Grand Old Party has little to be "proud of" in our "Accidental" President, who has given our nation deficits even GREATER than his father and Herr Reagan, and has made our nation and the world LESS safe than before now getting us mired in yet another Vietnam!

I am just going to "kick back" and continue to watch his Presidency implode and wish we could have an impeachment for a President that has sent over 600 Americans to their graves unnecessarily! But I guess the mental anguish of how he did this and has destroyed our relationships with allies and friends alike is sufficient anguish for the STUPIDEST man to be SELECTED to be President of the United States!

A proud, white, Southern professional LIBERAL Democrat,

David Southcomb

P.S.: Critters like me do exist that have not accepted the race baiting of the Republican Party and am looking forward to Republicans everywhere getting the "living crap" beat out of them this fall!!!


Steve Brody - 4/11/2004

Conspiracy theories abound in this country. They are usually propagated by people who are unable to provide any evidence to support the theory. Such is the case with you, Richard.

Inevitably these theories fall apart whenever they are subjected to any real scrutiny, as was the case of the mythical Iranian hostage “October surprise”. Not surprisingly, Richard, you are undeterred by your lack of evidence. The fact is, Richard, you’re really no different than those who insist that the moon landings were filmed on some movie stage in Hollywood or that the Government has alien corpses in a hangar in Nevada.


Richard K. Hertz - 4/10/2004

Actually, they returned the hostages on that particular date in order to cement the quid pro quo: "You help us screw Carter and we'll send you weapons and spare parts."

If the Iranians were so frightened of the Gipper in late 1980/ January 1981 (before he took office), wouldn't they have been even more fearful of him AFTER he took office? As anyone familiar with the Reagan years knows, it's obvious that they weren't afraid of him at all. Not only that, they used Reagan over and over and held him in such awe that they even left a little cash on the nightstand for him.

October surprises are pretty common. Nixon's henchmen sabotaged the Paris peace talks in 1968, Reagan's lackeys traded arms for hostages, Dubya's drunk driving conviction came out just a week before the election. I'm sure there are others. When hucksters like Pipes get hysterical and insist no such thing happened... well, let's just say he doth protest too much.


Steve Brody - 4/8/2004

Johnny, the reason the Iranians returned the hostages the day Reagan took office is because during the campaign, Reagan made it clear he would turn Iran into a parking lot if they didn’t. They probably couldn’t wait to give the hostages back after Reagan won.

Besides, the Iranians hated Carter because he gave the Shah safe haven in the US. What better way to stick it to Carter?

That aside, I notice that you posted absolutely no evidence to support your conspiracy theory. Do you have any? This whole thing has been thoroughly investigated by a Democrat controlled Congressional committee, various governmental agencies and the world press. All have dismissed it. Do you have some evidence that these august bodies overlooked?

As for your other theory, that the “a dramatic hostage release” might have changed the election outcome, I can only say “dream on”. I lived under the disaster of the Carter Administration. The worst economy since Hoover. 13.5% inflation, 7.5% unemployment, 20.5% prime interest rate. That is why Reagan blew out Carter and the exit polls prove it.

Carter screwed around for 444 days with the hostage crisis. He presided over a complete disaster of a rescue attempt. You somehow can’t come to grips with the fact that Carter was just completely inept in dealing with the situation (and many others). There must have been a CONSPIRACY.


Steve Brody - 4/8/2004

Johnny, the reason the Iranians returned the hostages the day Reagan took office is because during the campaign, Reagan made it clear he would turn Iran into a parking lot if they didn’t. They probably couldn’t wait to give the hostages back after Reagan won.

Besides, the Iranians hated Carter because he gave the Shah safe haven in the US. What better way to stick it to Carter?

That aside, I notice that you posted absolutely no evidence to support your conspiracy theory. Do you have any? This whole thing has been thoroughly investigated by a Democrat controlled Congressional committee, various governmental agencies and the world press. All have dismissed it. Do you have some evidence that these august bodies overlooked?

As for your other theory, that the “a dramatic hostage release” might have changed the election outcome, I can only say “dream on”. I lived under the disaster of the Carter Administration. The worst economy since Hoover. 13.5% inflation, 7.5% unemployment, 20.5% prime interest rate. That is why Reagan blew out Carter and the exit polls prove it.

Carter screwed around for 444 days with the hostage crisis. He presided over a complete disaster of a rescue attempt. You somehow can’t come to grips with the fact that Carter was just completely inept in dealing with the situation (and many others). There must have been a CONSPIRACY.


Johnny Ramburg - 4/7/2004

It is difficult to quantify the effect that a dramatic hostage release would have had on the electorate. At any rate, the timing of the hostage release and the arms shipments to Iran are extremely suspicious, especially to anyone who can put two and two together.


Steve Brody - 4/6/2004

Blaming Carter’s loss on an “ October surprise" is silly. First off, you have presented no evidence that it ever occurred. Do you have evidence that has been overlooked by a Democrat controlled investigative committee, Government Investigators and the world press?

Secondly, President Carter's Gallup poll approval rating plummeted in July 1980 (the trough of the 1980 recession) to 21%; the lowest level recorded since the Gallup organization began polling in the 1930s during the Roosevelt administration. It is no surprise that President Carter was the first elected incumbent to be defeated in a reelection bid since Hoover in 1932: Carter had the worst election-year economic record since Hoover. In 1980, for example, for the first time since 1932 the year-on-year growth rate of real output and income was actually negative.

Thirdly, the democrats were so unpopular by the time of the 1980 elections the Republicans picked up fifty-three seats in the House of Representatives and twelve in the Senate, giving them a majority for the first time in the Senate since 1954. Some of the most prominent liberal Democrats were swept away by Reagan's sweep, including Birch Bayh of Indiana, Frank Church of Idaho, Gaylord Nelson in Wisconsin, and the 1972 presidential nominee, Senator George McGovern of South Dakota. This was evidence of a much wider discontent than simply with Carter’s handling of the hostage crisis.

Fourth, I found this neat graph of CBS/NYT 1980 Election Day polling data:


Issues Underlying the Support for Reagan in the 1980 Election:


Which (of the listed) issues were most important in affecting how you voted todlay (for Reagan)? [two responses permitted]

Inflation and the Economy 40%
Balancing the Federal Budget 26%
Jobs and Unemployment 20%
U.S. Prestige around the World 19%
Reducing Federal Income Taxes 13%
Crisis in Iran 9%
ERA and the Abortion Issue 5%

Source: CBS News/New York Times 1980 Election Day Poll; reported in National Journal (August 11, 1980), p. 1877.
(http://www.csulb.edu/~astevens/posc420/files/hibbs.html)

It lists the reasons that the respondents gave for why they voted for Reagan. Notice that only 9% listed the Iranian crisis. Notice that 86% listed economic issues. Kinda sinks your argument that Reagan was elected because of the Iranian hostage crisis, Richard.


Josh S Narins - 4/6/2004

We did sell military equipment to both sides in the Iran-Iraq war, you are saying it was a small percentage of the total to Iraq.

It was also, in case you didn't know, a small percentage of the total to Iran.

But that does not change the possible result that the RW Reagan was the only President to ever arm both sides in a conflict.

I would guess that early American Presidents might have done it in intra-"tribal" wars.


Josh S Narins - 4/6/2004

It was a hell of a lot more than civilian helicopters.

The standard story is that we used our satellites, and gave them intelligence on Iranian troops.

And they were not "civilian" helicopters, since they were used to gas people. They were dual-use.

I am not French, nor Russian. I honestly don't know any examples. Have some links?


Josh S Narins - 4/6/2004

Yeah, Daniel "Put Up That Wall, Mr. Sharon" Pipes is some left wing wacko.

Way to pin 'em, Mr. Brody.

I am absolutely confident that the helicopers are not the central issue relating to arms sales to Iraq before 1991.

You are pretending there was no other exchange, which is disturbingly dishonest.


Josh S Narins - 4/6/2004

Carter, with his Israeli-Egyptian middle east peace under his belt, was a threat to every Middle Eastern revolutionary recruiter.

Three billion a year to the Egyptian government decreased the chances of a theocratic revolution there.

Was there a reason the Iranians chose the day after the inauguration to release the hostages?
Whatever the real reason was, Daniel Pipes avoids it.

Say "Hola" to Eleana for me!

To the best of my (admittedly limited) knowledge, RW Reagan was the only President in US history to arm both sides in a war (the Iran-Iraq war).

Is this true?


Richard K. Hertz - 4/6/2004

Actually, according to Gallup polls, Carter and Reagan were neck-and-neck right up to the last two weeks of the election. So, had Reagan's team not sabotaged the release of the hostages, there is a good chance Carter would have won.

What GOP shills like Pipes ignore is the fact that within days of Reagan taking office, U.S.-made weapons and spare parts started flowing to Iran via Israel -with Uncle Sam's blessing. By March, Argentina did the same -again, with the approval of the Reagan administration. Why did Reagan's people do this? There were no more hostages in Iran, and Iranian-backed groups like Hezbollah hadn't started kidnapping Americans in Beirut yet.

When the administration tilted toward Iraq and stopped arming Iran in late 1982/ early 83, the adbuction of Americans started up again in earnest.

Anyone who finds this farfetched should keep in mind that one of the reasons Reagan started sending weapons to Iran in 1984 was to try to bring them home before the election. The trading of arms for hostages would have continued were it not for a Lebanese newspaper. Of course, Pipes would have denounced the Iran/ Contra scandal as a "conspiracy theory" were it not for the fact that Reagan's stooges did such a clownishly inept job of covering their tracks. By the way, I agree with Gore Vidal's quip that people who dismiss things as "conspiracy theories" do so because they are themselves conspirators.

Daniel Pipes should leave history alone and go back to what he does best: Publishing e-mail addresses of teachers he doesn't like on his website so thugs and cowards can send them death threats.


Steve Brody - 4/5/2004

So many myths, so little evidence.

“Those of us living back at the time of the 1980 Presidential election, remember how close the election was,”

David, as someone who lived through the disaster of the Carter presidency, I can tell you that the election was not close. The facts are that Reagan won 489 electoral votes and Carter won 49 electoral votes. Carter won 6 states, Reagan won 44 states. Reagan won 51% of the popular vote, Carter won 41%.

Only someone who believes in the myth of the “October surprise” and cites “The Consortium” as his support would call this “close”. Everyone else refers to these results as a “blowout”.

I graduated from college during the Carter Administration. I remember Carter’s 13.5% inflation, 7+% unemployment, and 20.5% prime interest rates. The Carter economy was so bad, economists had to invent a new word to describe it: stagflation.

Actually, Carter is one of the few Presidents that had absolutely nothing to redeem his Presidency—unmitigated disasters in both foreign and domestic policies. Carter was never going to be re-elected and everyone knew it.

As for the “October surprise”, I noticed you didn’t take my challenge and provide any evidence to support it. By “evidence”, I don’t mean some left wing wacko conspiracy website, like “The Consortium” or your own unsupported assertions. Always remember, Dave, that your unsupported theories are not evidence, no matter how fervently you may believe them.

As for the rest of your post—unsupported, and for the most part unsupportable, political diatribe.


David Gerald Southcomb - 4/5/2004

Suffice it to say, Steve, just like Bush-Cheney in 2000, Reagan-Bush 20 yrs. earlier, STOLE the Presidential election from the American people! The major DIFFERENCE with Reagan-Bush in 1980, is Mr. Bush committed treason against the United States government and the American people when he went to Paris in October 1980, and "cut a deal" with the Iranian government to DELAY the release of the American hostages! He was NOT a part of the elected government of this nation, and any private citizen that did something so brazen and bizarre, would still be in Federal prison--a place where BOTH Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush SHOULD be today!

Like MOST Americans, I have the deepest respect for Jimmy Carter--clearly, the MOST respected former President for the three BEST former LIVING Presidents--Carter, Clinton, and Ford! Prior to Ford, you have to go back to Theodore Roosevelt and then Abraham Lincoln, to account for the ONLY Republican Presidents worth talking about--the rest, either average to mediocre, and the vast majority, TOTAL "disasters" and first class failures in the Oval Office!

Indeed I NEVER thought our President "Select," our "Accidental President" George W. Bush could exceed the disasters of Harding, Coolidge and Hoover, but he has; and I am enjoying sitting back and watching his Presidency "self destruct"!!!

Those of us living back at the time of the 1980 Presidential election, remember how close the election was, right up to the last moment! Commentators on the 1980 Presidential election have wisely observed that MORE than gasoline and oil prices in the closing year of the Carter Presidency, it was his inability to secure the release of the American hostages, led to his failure to get re-elected!

God knows what a shame that was; as the American electorate "went to sleep" for 12 yrs., and we suffered through two of the WORST Presidents in modern memory; the beginning of terrorism which was left TOTALLY UNchecked; including the senseless loss of 241 sailors and Marines in Beirut and the downing of a commercial airliner over Scotland; and the TOTAL loss of a real opportunity in Eastern Europe when the Berlin Wall "came down, during Bush I's failed Presidency that had a "lost" opportunity, while he pined away over Iraq to protect the family's oil interests!!!

A good reference tool for the "October Surprise" is:

The Consortium
http://www.consortiumnews.com/archive/xfile.html

In short, Steve, the American people have had their "bellyfull" of four lying and deceptive Republican Presidents--Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush. And given the horrific financial deficits that George W. Bush has provided this country in just three years-- not to mention how he has destroyed our relationships with foreign nations that were BOTH our allies and enemies, it is going to take a minimum of 16 years of Democratic LEADERSHIP to "straighten things out"!!! Hopefully 8 yrs. of John Kerry and 8 yrs. of Hillary Clinton will give our great nation the internal resolve and the financial stability to again be seen as a respected world power that works WITH their allies, instead of tries to be the "Lone Ranger" and is obsessed with "personal payback" on a serious war on terrorism that the two preceding Republican Presidents did NOTHING to STOP!!!

A proud, Southern, white professional liberal Democrat,

David G. Southcomb


Steve Brody - 4/4/2004

Josh, you’ve got it wrong. Pipes debunks left wing conspiracy buffs like you and Southcomb, who continue to make pithy reference to the “October surprise” and them ignore any requests for evidence that it ever occurred. I’ve asked you specifically for your evidence and you’ve studiously ignored the request. I take your failure to provide any evidence as a tacit admission that you have none.

As for weapons sales to Iraq, I now ask you for your evidence of specific weapons systems that you believe we sold to Iraq.

Let me help you, Josh:

When we kicked Iraq out of Kuwait, were the Iraqi’s driving American tanks? Nope, those were Russian tanks. Provided by Russia.

Were those Iraqi pilots flying American fighter planes? Nope, those were French and Russian fighter planes.

Were those American M-16’s that the Iraqi’s were shooting at us? Nope, those were Russian AK-47’s, provided by Russia.

Were those American anti tank missiles being fired at our troops? Nope, those were French missiles being fired from French attack helicopters.

Was that American artillery being fired at our troops? Nope, that was Russian artillery, provided by Russia.

Gosh,Josh. All those weapons you say we provided Saddam. Why do you suppose he didn’t use them?

I’ll give you a hint. Between 1973 and 2002, as I have posted, we sold Saddam a grand total of 55 civilian helicopters. During the same period, France and Russia sold Saddam hundreds of warplanes, hundreds of attack helicopters, thousands of Main Battle Tanks, hundreds of artillery pieces, thousands of SAMS and RPG’s, and millions of rounds of ammo for all that hardware.


Steve Brody - 4/4/2004

Dave, do all those incendiary conspiracy theories require any evidence or are they articles of faith for you?

If you do have any evidence that was overlooked by a Democratically controlled investigative committee, government investigative agencies and the world press, why don’t you cite it?


Steve Brody - 4/4/2004

Josh, you’ve got it wrong. Pipes debunks left wing conspiracy buffs like you and Southcomb, who continue to make pithy reference to the “October surprise” and them ignore any requests for evidence that it ever occurred. I’ve asked you specifically for your evidence and you’ve studiously ignored the request. I take your failure to provide any evidence as a tacit admission that you have none.

As for weapons sales to Iraq, I now ask you for your evidence of specific weapons systems that you believe we sold to Iraq.

Let me help you, Josh:

When we kicked Iraq out of Kuwait, were the Iraqi’s driving American tanks? Nope, those were Russian tanks. Provided by Russia.

Were those Iraqi pilots flying American fighter planes? Nope, those were French and Russian fighter planes.

Were those American M-16’s that the Iraqi’s were shooting at us? Nope, those were Russian AK-47’s, provided by Russia.

Were those American anti tank missiles being fired at our troops? Nope, those were French missiles being fired from French attack helicopters.

Was that American artillery being fired at our troops? Nope, that was Russian artillery, provided by Russia.

Gosh, Kent. All those weapons you say we provided Saddam. Why do you suppose he didn’t use them?

I’ll give you a hint. Between 1973 and 2002, as I have posted, we sold Saddam a grand total of 55 civilian helicopters. During the same period, France and Russia sold Saddam hundreds of warplanes, hundreds of attack helicopters, thousands of Main Battle Tanks, hundreds of artillery pieces, thousands of SAMS and RPG’s, and millions of rounds of ammo for all that hardware.


David Gerald Southcomb - 4/4/2004

You darn toutin' the "October Surprise" happen and BOTH Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush should BOTH have been impeached and removed from office for committing "treason," as neither were the "elected" government in Oct. 1980, they BOTH should have been sent to Federal prison!!!

The fact that the American hostages were released just moments after Herr Reagan was coronated President, is illustrative of this in a profound way! The fact that the KGB sent information to Congress confirming Mr. Bush's presence in Paris in October 1980 and nothing was done is a great tragedy!

A certain Lee Hamilton, a Democratic Congressperson from Indiana, could have "launched" the investigation, but he opted to betray BOTH the Democratic Party and the American people and did nothing; and in my estimation is not subject to Federal imprisonment, but both Reagan and Bush I are; and Bush II and Cheney should likewise be impeached and removed from office by how they exploited the tragic events of "9/11" to get the U. S. mired in a war that is getting worse every week and month! Thank God the Bush Administration of today is slpwly "self destructing"! No one in their right mind could vote to re-elect these 1st class liars and deceivers of the American public and the world community over WMDs that were used to "justify" this war and have yet to be found!


Steve Brody - 4/4/2004

The real reason that this story has legs is because every couple of years, some left wing conspiracy wacko picks it up and runs with it.


Steve Brody - 4/4/2004

Josh, my information is the only helicopters known to have been modified for dispensing chemical weapons were some of the Russian MI-8 Hips.

It is suspected that the Iraqis may have modified some of the MI-24 Hind and MI-26 Halo helicopters to carry 90mm air to surface rockets with chemical warheads.

None of the 55 US civilians helicopters were particularly suited for chemical weapons delivery. They consisted of a combination of Hughes 300 and MD500 light helicopters.

Can you document your assertion that the civilian helicopters we sold Iraq were used to dispense chemical weapons?

As for not being French or Russian, that’s something you’ve got going for you.


bryan haught - 4/3/2004

One reason this theory may have legs is Reagan's own words - in a televised interview he claimed to have had something to do with the release. I saw that snippet myself. On the other hand, his tendency for off-the-cuff embroidery was well documented at the time.


Steve Brody - 4/2/2004

Actually, Josh, it seems like an awful stretch to say that 55 civilians helicopters are "military equiptment".

Even if you make that argument, you must admit that Reagan was a piker compared to the French and Russians in the 'selling to both sides" department.


Steve Brody - 4/2/2004

Actually, Josh, it seems like an awful stretch to say that 55 civilians helicopters are "military equiptment".

Even if you make that argument, you must admit that Reagan was a piker compared to the French and Russians in the 'selling to both sides" department.


Ken Melvin - 4/2/2004

Ronnie got confused quite often.


Steve Brody - 4/1/2004

1. “Was there a reason the Iranians chose the day after the inauguration to release the hostages? Whatever the real reason was, Daniel Pipes avoids it.”

Well, Josh, it might have been that Reagan had made it clear during the campaign that he intended to turn Iran into a parking lot to get the hostages back. I’ll bet they couldn’t wait to get rid of the hostages once Reagan was in the White House.

One other reason is that the Iranians hated Carter for offering safe haven to the Shaw. What better way to stick it to Carter?

But if you have some evidence for your conspiracy theory, some evidence overlooked by Congress, Government Investigative Agencies and the world press, lets hear it.


2. “To the best of my (admittedly limited) knowledge, RW Reagan was the only President in US history to arm both sides in a war (the Iran-Iraq war).”

Well, you’re wrong about that. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute(http://www.sipri.se/), the US sold Iraq less than 1% of its weaponry between 1972 and 2002. Way less than France and Russia. Less than Denmark, for that matter.

Actually, we sold them 55 civilian helicopters. France and Russia sold them tanks, warplanes, artillery, attack helicopters, etc.

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