Republicans Don't Jeopardize National Security For Partisan Ends, Do They? If Jim DeMint Has Been Doing That It Would Be Treason, No?
If you don't recall 1980's October Surprise, let me refer you to Wikipedia for a quickie history recap:
The phrase "October Surprise conspiracy" refers to an alleged plot to influence the outcome of the 1980 United States presidential election between incumbent Jimmy Carter (D–GA) and opponent Ronald Reagan (R-CA).
One of the leading, national issues during that year was the release of 52 Americans being held hostage since November 4, 1979, in Iran. Reagan won the election. On the day of his inauguration-- in fact, twenty minutes after he concluded his inaugural address-- the Islamic Republic of Iran announced the release of the hostages. The timing gave rise to an allegation that representatives of Reagan's presidential campaign had conspired with Iran to delay the release until after the election in order to thwart President Carter from pulling off an "October surprise."
According to the allegation, the Reagan Administration would have rewarded Iran for its participation in the plot by supplying Iran with weapons and by unblocking Iranian government monetary assets in US banks.
After twelve years of mixed media attention, both houses of the US Congress held separate inquiries and concluded that the allegations lacked supporting documentation.
Nevertheless, several individuals-- most notably former Iranian President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, former Naval intelligence officer and National Security Council member Gary Sick, and former Reagan/Bush campaign and White House staffer Barbara Honegger-- have stood by the allegation.
Honneger explained that "the very possibility that Carter could bring the hostages home was close to certain to wreck a Reagan bid for the presidency. So the Reagan campaign took phenomenal secret measures to ensure that the Carter White House was not successful. Reagan's 1980 campaign manager, William Casey, was knowledgeable, before the fact, of the upcoming Carter Desert 1 rescue attempt of April, 1980. Now that is a phenomenal fact, because many of even the highest level officers in Carter's own CIA were kept in the dark about that very operation... Richard Allen was head of the October Surprise working group. It met every morning to try to come up with ways to try to prevent Carter from bringing the hostages home. We do know from published accounts, in the Knight Ridder papers across the country, that Richard Allen met with Robert McFarlane and an alleged emissary from Khomeni's regime in Washington in early October of 1980 to discuss a deal to delay the release of the hostages until after the 1980 election. There is no question that that meeting happened, Allen and McFarlane have acknowledged that it did... Allen and McFarlane deny that any deal was cut, but the bulk of the evidence shows that that's not the case. For instance, Allen, in late November of 1986 on the McNeil-Leherer News Hour, referred to a deal between Reagan and Iran. He was being interviewed at the time, and he was referring to the very first day that Reagan was president. Allen recalled for the audience that he had told Reagan that there was a 53rd hostage, Cynthia Dwyer, who had not been released, and Reagan responded, 'You get the Iranians on the phone for me, and I'm going to tell them that our deal is off unless she is released.' Well, you would have expected the interviewer to have jumped up and said, 'Just a minute, sir, what deal was that?' Now the reason that that had to have been, in my studied opinion, a deal between Reagan and Khomeni, made before Reagan was president, is because at the time that Reagan made that phone call to the Iranians, all of Carter's deals with Khomeni had been consummated So, when Reagan referred to a deal with the Iranians, he had to have been referring to a separate deal.
Congress was unwilling to label the beloved, even iconic, Reagan a traitor, so they skirted the issue of William Casey's deal-- aided and abetted by CIA reactionaries like George H.W. Bush, Richard Allen, Donald Gregg, Robert Gates (yeah, him) and Ted Shackley-- with the Iranians in July and August in Madrid. A couple of CIA hits, "suicides," wiped out the witnesses willing to testify and it all got chalked up to "inconclusive." Gary Sick's book, October Surprise: America's Hostages in Iran and the Election of Ronald Reagan may be very persuasive but it's going to take a major exposé on Jesse Ventura's Conspiracy Theories tv show before the American public pays any attention. But they should; Reagan wasn't the only treacherous right-wing politician willing to betray the country to gain partisan advantage. Even further back, in 1968, we had Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger sabotaging LBJ's Vietnam peace talks in Paris to guarantee a Nixon presidential win.
If you don't have time to read Evan Laine's book, Nixon and The Dragon Lady, let's go back to Wikipedia for a moment:
According to records of President Lyndon B. Johnson's secret monitoring of South Vietnamese officials and his political foes, Anna Chennault played a crucial role on behalf of the Nixon campaign which attempted to sabotage of the 1968 Paris peace talks which could have ended the Vietnam War. She arranged the contact with South Vietnamese Ambassador Bui Diem whom Richard Nixon met in secret in July 1968 in New York. It was through Chennault's intercession that the Nixon campaign advised Saigon to refuse participation in the talks, promising a better deal once elected. Records of FBI wiretaps show that Chennault phoned Bui Diem on November 2 with the message "hold on, we are gonna win." "The tactic ‘worked,’ in that the South Vietnamese junta withdrew from the talks on the eve of the election, thereby destroying the peace initiative on which the Democrats had based their campaign." Before the elections President Johnson “suspected (…) Richard Nixon, of political sabotage that he called treason." No one was ever prosecuted for this crime.
Chennault-- aka, The Dragon Lady-- worked with Nixon, Kissinger John Mitchell (Nixon's campaign manager who went on to be Attorney General and was later convicted in the Watergate scandal, becoming the only Attorney General ever convicted of illegal activities and serving time in prison) and Senator John Tower (R-TX). Historian Rick Perlstein deals with it in his book Nixonland on pages 350 and 370:
And in Paris, the chances of peace seemed to be receding every day. Every time the North Vietnamese appeared to be ready to agree to a condition, the South Vietnamese raised the bar.
The reason was that Nixon had sabotaged the negotiations. His agent was Anna Chennault, known to one and all as the Dragon Lady. She told the South Vietnamese not to agree to anything, because waiting to end the war would deliver her friend Richard Nixon the election, and he would give them a better deal... Kissinger was the double agent [at the Paris Peace Talks] feeding the intelligence to Nixon that let him scotch the peace deal before the election.
Nixon? Reagan? Would you expect less from Jim "Waterloo" DeMint (R-SC), the worst obstructionist and furthest right-wing member of the U.S. Senate, the many who embraced Rush Limbaugh's braying about wanting to see Obama fail regardless of the impact on America? As Sam Stein pointed out at HuffPo yesterday, on July 26, 2007, DeMint voted against-- one of only 8 senators, all far right Republicans of course-- to vote against H.R.1, a relatively non-controversial measure that effectively implemented several un-acted-upon recommendations from the 9/11 Commission, the he Improving America's Security Act. Minutes before passage, the Senate voted on DeMint's motion to recommit (kill) the bill, which was rejected 26-67, every Democrat against it, along with 19 Republicans who decided to put America first for a change and ignore DeMint's lunatic ravings. Among the 25 Republicans who joined DeMint in voting to kill the bill that day-- hard core obstructionists like John Barrasso (R-WY), Richard Burr (R-NC), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Tom Coburn (R-OK), John Cornyn (R-TX), John Ensign (R-NV), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Miss McConnell (R-KY), Jeff Sessions (KKK-AL), John Thune (R-SD) and David Diapers Vitter (R-LA)-- were the nucleus of what turned into the Senate cabal determined to sabotage Obama's presidency regardless of what harm they would do to the nation.
The opposition was, at the time, a bit perplexing, considering the praise the legislation received from many of the revered members of the 9/11 Commission itself. Now, following a botched terrorist attack that nearly brought down an airliner over the city of Detroit-- and subsequent conservative complaints that Democrats mishandled matters of national security-- the bill and that vote contain obvious, additional meaning.
The Improving America's Security Act of 2007 mandated 100 percent inspections of air and sea cargo, authorized $4 billion for rail, transit and bus security, and changed methods of allocating security funds so that states and cities with greater risks received a greater share of money.
More relevant to current times, the bill provided the Transportation Security Administration with the authority to use $250 million in funds to "purchase, deployment, installation, research, and development of equipment to improve security screening for explosives at commercial airport checkpoints." It also urged the TSA to "to deploy such technologies quickly and broadly to address security shortcomings at passenger screening checkpoints."
That hasn't stopped DeMint from actively doing everything he could to facilitate a national security catastrophe on Obama's watch, a catastrophe Republicans could use against Democrats in elections. He has put a hold on the confirmation of Erroll Southers, a widely admired anti-terrorism expert, until he comes out against unionizing TSA employees.
Southers, a former FBI special agent, is the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department assistant chief for homeland security and intelligence. He also is the associate director of the University of Southern California's Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events, and he served as a deputy director of homeland security for California Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Two Senate committees have given Southers their bipartisan blessing. An acting administrator is in place pending his confirmation.
Marshall McClain, the president of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association, said that the Senate should have acted sooner to confirm Southers.
"Friday's terrorist attack on U.S. aviation makes it all the more imperative that there be no further delays in filling this crucial position," he said.
...Reid spokesman Jim Manley said Monday that the majority leader is working with the White House to get Southers confirmed "as quickly as possible" and charged that "Republican obstructionism has prevented TSA from having the leadership in place that the organization deserves."
DeMint spokesman Wesley Denton said that Obama didn't nominate Southers until September, and he charged that Reid "has been too busy trading earmarks for votes on health care" to deal with DeMint's concerns.
DeMint's objection creates a procedural hurdle that could take three days of debate and test votes to overcome, or could potentially be limited if Democrats offered DeMint a compromise [by throwing unionized workers under the bus]. No one was taking conciliatory stance on Monday, however. Manley called DeMint's opposition "disgraceful."
Yesterday BuzzFlash awarded DeMint it's Hypocrite of the Week Award, pointing out that "there was once a time when, if the nation were under attack, even the strictest of partisan hacks would put away their petty squabbling and try their best to figure out how to make the United States a safe haven for its citizens. Not anymore." DeMint deserves much more than an award from BuzzFlash. As we pointed out last month before the terrorist attack DeMint had been hoping for, another Democratic President once said his biggest regret is not having hung another vicious South Carolina wingnut for treason. That senator was slavery's most ardent and fanatic defender, the disgraceful John Calhoun, a kind of pre-Civil War political amalgam of Cheney, Strom Thurmond and DeMint. He was an early secessionist who is best known for the doctrine of nullification, something neo-Confederates and reactionaries are still yammering about to this day.
UPDATE: DeMint's Democratic Challenger Has Also Noticed He's Running Against Someone Who Puts Politics Ahead Of Public Safety
Chad McGowan is a Democratic opponent of DeMint's and on New Year's Eve his campaign issued this press release.
First we found out that Senator Jim DeMint is the sole reason America had no one in charge of air security when Al Qaeda terrorists tried to blow up an airliner over Detroit last week.
DeMint's been blocking Erroll Southers' Senate confirmation as Director of the Transportation Security Administration, in spite of his qualifications for the job and bi-partisan support.
Now, we find out that putting politics ahead of our families' safety is a pattern with Senator DeMint.
In 2007, DeMint was one of only 8 Senators who voted against explosives detection equipment and training for the TSA. You read that right. DeMint was one of only 8 Senators who voted against the Improving America's Security Act of 2007, an act that, among other anti-terrorism measures, authorized $250 Million for explosives detection equipment and training for the TSA.
"Jim DeMint has a long history of putting his political agenda ahead of our safety," said US Senate candidate Chad McGowan. "It's not just one time. DeMint plays politics with our safety over and over again. That's not what South Carolina needs and it's certainly not what America deserves, especially now."
McGowan repeated his call for DeMint to stop blocking the confirmation of America's TSA Director.
"DeMint needs to stop playing his political games and start worrying about our safety. He says he wants a vote on the nominee. So let's have a vote, up or down. Right now."