Connect with us

Politics

Former Reagan adviser McFarlane, linchpin in Iran-Contra affair, dies

Published

on


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. National Security Advisor Robert “Bud” McFarlane attends Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump’s foreign policy speech at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, United States, April 27, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

By Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Robert McFarlane, a White House adviser who tapped Saudi royals to fund a covert war in Nicaragua and flew on a secret mission to sell arms to Iran in the scandal that shook Ronald Reagan’s presidency, has died.

He was 84.

McFarlane, who was in Michigan visiting family, died on Thursday of complications from a prior illness, his family said in a statement.

    McFarlane first worked in the White House under Richard Nixon, as a military aide to foreign policy chief Henry Kissinger, after serving two tours in Vietnam as a Marine officer.

Quiet and poker-faced, McFarlane gathered power in Reagan’s White House “under a cover of dullness,” reporter Robert Timberg wrote. Reagan appointed him national security adviser in 1983 mainly because he was the least controversial choice.

Four years later, televised congressional hearings that revealed McFarlane as a linchpin in the scandal known as Iran-Contra riveted millions of Americans.

McFarlane led arms sales to people he thought were moderates in Tehran on hopes they could free seven U.S. hostages held by Iran-linked Hezbollah in Lebanon. The failed attempts to free them circumvented a U.S. arms embargo to Iran and took place only a few years after Iranian militants had held 52 hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran for more than a year.

In the hearings, McFarlane told lawmakers he was unaware that profits from the arms sales were diverted to fund Contra rebels in Nicaragua who were fighting the socialist Sandinista government – until his protégé and fellow Marine, Oliver North, told him so.

But years earlier McFarlane had set in motion ways to fund the Contras, who were fighting the democratically elected Nicaraguan government, without Congress knowing. In the end, the scandal highlighted the ability of White House officials to conduct foreign policy on their own and skirt the Constitution’s system of checks and balances meant to keep such policies from spinning out of control.

While McFarlane worked on nuclear weapons control and many other tough issues in Reagan’s White House, he feared he would ultimately be remembered for Iran-Contra. He regretted resigning from the White House in the middle of it, yet became ever deeper involved in the scandal after leaving.

VIETNAM TO WHITE HOUSE

    Robert Carl McFarlane, son of a Democratic congressman from Texas, was born on July 12, 1937, grew up in Washington and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. Between two tours in Vietnam, he earned a master’s degree in strategic studies in Geneva. 

    After returning to Washington and holding several jobs in government, he landed a job the White House. As an aide to Kissinger, McFarlane bore witness to the stinging U.S. defeat in Vietnam. He handled White House communications with the U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam as he led the evacuation of American diplomats by helicopter from the roof of the embassy in Saigon in 1975.

Earlier, Kissinger had helped open relations with China after secret talks, piquing McFarlane’s interest in shaping relations with powers on the quiet.

As an aide in the Reagan White House, McFarlane helped launch a study that became known as the Reagan Doctrine, a commitment to roll back Soviet communist influence from Latin America to the Middle East. Soon Reagan appointed him national security adviser. McFarlane took the doctrine to heart.

In Nicaragua, the socialist Sandinista government, McFarlane believed, formed a “beachhead on our own continent … working from there to spread communism virtually all across our backyard.”

    Reagan’s CIA tried to aid the Contras by bombing an airport and mining ports. But news reports revealed the attacks, prompting Congress to pass the Boland Amendment banning U.S. intelligence agencies from helping Contras.

    Nevertheless, Reagan, who saw the Contras as the moral equivalent of the Founding Fathers, told McFarlane to bring him solutions, not problems. Reasoning that the Boland Amendment had no reins on White House officials, McFarlane secretly wrangled funding through other means.

He visited the Saudi ambassador in his mansion overlooking the Potomac River and suggested if the Contras failed, Reagan could lose re-election. Soon the Saudis were feeding $1 million a month to a bank account in the Cayman Islands.

    Farther from home, McFarlane feared Moscow would woo neighboring Iran and make inroads to the Middle East. An Israeli contact broached the idea of selling U.S. arms through Israel to moderates in Iran, locked in war with Iraq. Beyond the possibility of freeing the hostages, McFarlane believed building ties to moderates could lead to the eventual overthrow of the Ayatollah Khomeini and a reset of Iran-U.S. relations that could make history.

He brought the idea of freeing hostages to Reagan who was recovering from cancer surgery. To Reagan, who had become obsessed with the plight of the hostages including a CIA station chief, a deal could set them free.

    ‘ASKED TO PLAY GOD’

    The Iranians told McFarlane to choose which hostage they would release. “I was being asked to play God,” McFarlane said. His choice was easy: William Buckley, the station chief. Washington approved deliveries of missiles from Israel. But Buckley was already dead. While a hostage was released, others were taken.

Feeling he had failed Reagan, McFarlane resigned in late 1985.

Before leaving, however, McFarlane took communication links to the White House’s national security council.

In May 1986, McFarlane and Oliver North flew on a mission to Tehran to meet people who they thought would be moderates. Besides a pallet of missile parts, they bore gifts: pistols and a chocolate cake topped with a key, meant to symbolize a diplomatic opening.

    They were met not by moderates, but by the Ayatollah’s elite military force, the Revolutionary Guards. Days went by. No hostages were released, the Americans went home in defeat.

On the trip back North revealed he had diverted some of the profits from the sales to the Contras. “At least we’re using some of the Ayatollah’s money in Central America,” North told McFarlane.

    Another surprise was in store: a story in a Lebanese magazine revealed the disaster to the world. That led to a U.S. investigation that harmed Reagan’s reputation and threw McFarlane into depression.

    In February 1987, the night before McFarlane was to appear for the second time on Capitol Hill before a commission investigating Iran-Contra, he washed down 30 Valium pills with a glass of wine and went to bed.

The suicide attempt failed.

    After pleading guilty to lying to Congress about soliciting funds for paramilitary activities in Nicaragua, McFarlane was sentenced in 1988 to probation, a $20,000 fine and community service.

Unlike other figures in the scandal, McFarlane did not take his constitutional right to evade questions.

In 1992, President George H.W. Bush pardoned McFarlane on the advice of then-Attorney General Bill Barr, who went on to hold the same job under Donald Trump.

    STAR WARS    As national security adviser, managing the nuclear weapons race with the Soviet Union was a big part of McFarlane’s duties. Reagan, who feared nuclear war, wanted to develop Strategic Defense Initiative, or “Star Wars” lasers that could blast nuclear missiles from the sky. Many scientists were skeptical, and some Pentagon officials thought it would worsen the arms race. 

Reagan directed McFarlane to convince British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to support SDI. McFarlane told her that Reagan believed the system could win British companies $300 million in contracts. “Thatcher sat up and brightened a bit,” McFarlane wrote. “At last she looked back at me and said: ‘You know there may be something to this after all!'”

    McFarlane took pride in helping to achieve the first nuclear weapons nonproliferation agreement with Moscow, but feared Iran-Contra would overshadow it.

He also regretted stepping down in the middle of that crisis. “I shouldn’t have done it,” he told the Fiasco podcast in 2020 about quitting. “The only person that could have stopped (Iran-Contra) was me.”    

    After leaving politics, McFarlane cofounded a company to develop nuclear power plants abroad using U.S. technology. 

Once again, Russia loomed large in his thinking. McFarlane believed if the United States did not offer reactor technology to countries like Saudi Arabia, that Russia or China would. He met with Trump administration officials on the possibilities of bringing the technology to the kingdom, a move critics said could spark a Middle East arms race.

McFarlane is survived by his wife, Jonda, and their three children.

Politics

Factbox-Five key U.S. midterm primaries in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Idaho

Published

on

3/3

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, U.S. Democratic Senate candidate for Pennsylvania, poses for a portrait at a meet-and-greet at the Weyerbacher Brewing Company in Easton, Pennsylvania, U.S., May 1, 2022. REUTERS/Hannah Beier

2/3

(Reuters) -Voters in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Idaho and Kentucky hold nominating primaries on Tuesday in which voters will pick their parties’ candidates for the U.S. Congress and other offices, helping to shape the field for the Nov. 8 midterm election.

Here is a look at several important contests.

Rebuked lawmaker voted out

U.S. Representative Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina lost a Republican nomination contest to defend his seat after getting rebuked by fellow Republicans for calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy a thug and for saying he had witnessed cocaine use and been invited to orgies in Washington. He has drawn criticism over a naked video, has faced accusations of sexual harassment and has been stopped twice for carrying firearms into airports.

State Senator Chuck Edwards defeated Cawthorn and will likely win the general election because Cawthorn’s seat, based in the mountainous western part of the state, is considered safely Republican.

Fetterman wins amid health scare

Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman cruised to victory in the Democratic nomination contest for what could be one of the tightest U.S. Senate races in November.

He emerged victorious just hours after having a pacemaker installed as he recovers from a stroke, raising questions about his ability to deliver on one of the Democrats’ best opportunities to add to their razor-thin Senate majority.

With Pennsylvania’s incumbent Republican Senator Patrick Toomey retiring, Fetterman will face the winner of a crowded Republican nomination contest.

David McCormick (NYSE:MKC) vs. Mehmet Oz

The battle for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in Pennsylvania was shaken up in its final week, as conservative commentator Kathy Barnette put in a strong closing performance.

However, former hedge fund CEO David McCormick and television wellness celebrity Mehmet Oz, backed by Trump, held their leading positions with 85% of the expected vote counted, according to Edison Research.

McCormick and Oz told their supporters they did not expect their race to be decided on Tuesday.

Trump-backed Ted Budd wins

U.S. congressman Ted Budd, endorsed by former President Donald Trump, defeated former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory in the Republican primary to succeed retiring U.S. Senator Richard Burr.

Budd, who voted against certifying Trump’s defeat in the 2020 presidential election, had little statewide name recognition before Trump got behind him. Afterward, Budd rose in public opinion polls against McCrory, a fiscally conservative standard-bearer of the Tea Party era.

In the November election, Budd will face Democrat Cheri Beasley, a Black woman who formerly served as chief justice of the state Supreme Court. Analysts expect the race to be competitive.

Brad Little vs. Janice McGeachin

Idaho Governor Brad Little is facing a Republican primary challenge from Janice McGeachin, who recently spoke at a political conference hosted by a white nationalist. McGeachin, who is endorsed by Trump, has been dogging Little from the right as the state’s lieutenant governor. She took the gubernatorial reins several times while Little was out of the state, issuing executive orders that banned pandemic-related mask mandates and ordering National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump’s endorsement of McGeachin has perplexed political observers because Little is a staunch conservative who has not had public spats with Trump.

Continue Reading

Politics

Fetterman wins Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania Senate race

Published

on


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, U.S. Democratic Senate candidate for Pennsylvania, takes a selfie with attendees at a meet-and-greet at the Weyerbacher Brewing Company in Easton, Pennsylvania, U.S., May 1, 2022. REUTERS/Hannah Beier/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, a progressive who disclosed he had a stroke last week, defeated centrist congressman Conor Lamb in the party’s U.S. Senate primary, Edison Research projected on Tuesday.

Fetterman now faces a Republican candidate in the Nov. 8 general election to determine the successor to retiring Republican Senator Pat Toomey. The race is pivotal in Democratic hopes of retaining their slim majority in the Senate. The Democratic primary was seen as a test of which wing of the party will hold sway heading into the general election.

Fetterman said on Sunday he had suffered a stroke last week but was on his “way to a full recovery.” His campaign said on Tuesday he successfully had a pacemaker installed to address irregular heart rhythms that caused the stroke.

Continue Reading

Politics

McConnell urges Biden administration to ensure sustained aid to Ukraine

Published

on


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) listens as another Republican senator speaks to reporters following the Senate Republicans weekly policy lunch at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., May 10, 2022. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz/F

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell urged the Biden administration on Tuesday to lead an effort to ensure broad, sustained international support for Ukraine and said Washington should remain a reliable supplier of advanced weaponry for the besieged country.

Continue Reading

News

Stock Markets54 seconds ago

Dow Futures Tick Lower After Wall Street Sell-off Intensifies

© Reuters. By Oliver Gray  Investing.com – U.S. stock futures were trading lower during Wednesday’s evening deals, after major benchmark...

World1 min ago

Biden presses companies on infant formula, FDA eyes more imports

4/4 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Empty shelves show a shortage of baby formula at CVS in San Antonio, Texas, U.S....

Stock Markets1 min ago

New York Times pauses return to office for workers

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The New York Times building is seen in Manhattan, New York, U.S., August 3, 2020. REUTERS/Shannon...

Stock Markets1 min ago

Hedge fund Melvin Capital tells investors it plans to shut down -letter

2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Wall Street sign is pictured outside the New York Stock Exchange in New York,...

World1 min ago

More Ukraine fighters surrendering in Mariupol, Russia says

© Reuters. Buses carrying service members of Ukrainian forces who have surrendered after weeks holed up at Azovstal steel works...

Economy2 mins ago

Exclusive-Japan Inc turns against central bank’s monetary stimulus, Reuters survey shows

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A businessman walks near the Bank of Japan headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, Feb. 15, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas...

Stock Markets31 mins ago

U.S. lodges third labor complaint in Mexico, on behalf of Panasonic workers

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A logo of Panasonic Corp is pictured at the CEATEC JAPAN 2017 (Combined Exhibition of Advanced...

Cryptocurrency31 mins ago

Candidate supported by Bankman-Fried-linked PAC loses Oregon primary

Candidate supported by Bankman-Fried-linked PAC loses Oregon primary Andrea Salinas has won the Democratic primary election for the newly created...

Stock Markets31 mins ago

Cisco shares slump as China lockdowns, Ukraine crisis hit outlook

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Cisco Systems logo is seen as part of a display at the Microsoft Ignite technology...

Stock Markets32 mins ago

Biden invokes Defense Production Act to increase infant formula supply

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Empty shelves show a shortage of baby formula at CVS in San Antonio, Texas, U.S. May...

Economy1 hour ago

Brazil’s govt will maintain GDP outlook for 2022 and 2023 -sources

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Consumers shop at a weekly street market in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, September 2, 2021. REUTERS/Ricardo...

Cryptocurrency1 hour ago

Socios fan tokens rally 40%+ after Chiliz rolls out mainnet upgrade and token burn plan

Socios fan tokens rally 40%+ after Chiliz rolls out mainnet upgrade and token burn plan In times of high stress...

Economic Indicators1 hour ago

JPMorgan cuts U.S. GDP estimates for 2022 and 2023

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Stacked containers are shown as ships unload their cargo at the Port of Los Angeles in...

Stock Markets1 hour ago

Plotkin’s Melvin Capital to Wind Down – Report

© Reuters Plotkin’s Melvin Capital to Wind Down – Report Gabe Plotkin’s Melvin Capital Management, a hedge fund that lost...

Stock Markets1 hour ago

Chevron, Schlumberger withdraw request for California carbon-capture permit

2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of Chevron Corp is seen in its booth at Gastech, the world’s biggest...

Economy1 hour ago

Factbox-U.S. companies offering abortion travel benefits

© Reuters. Signage is seen at an Amazon facility in Staten Island, New York City, U.S., April 24, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew...

Sports & General1 hour ago

New York state opens probe of social media platforms used by Buffalo shooting suspect

2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Members of the Buffalo Police department work at the scene of a shooting at a...

Stock Markets2 hours ago

Synopsys Shares Up 4% Following Q2 Beat, Upbeat Guidance

© Reuters. Synopsys Shares Up 4% Following Q2 Beat, Upbeat Guidance Synopsys (NASDAQ:SNPS) shares were trading more than 4% higher...

Stock Markets2 hours ago

Under Armour CEO Frisk Steps Down After 5 Tumultuous Years

© Reuters. Under Armour CEO Frisk Steps Down After 5 Tumultuous Years Under Armour, Inc. (NYSE:UA), announced that Patrik Frisk...

Coronavirus2 hours ago

Democrats warn abortion, voting rights at stake in Pennsylvania governor’s race

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Pennsylvania State Senator Doug Mastriano speaks at a protest against the state’s extended stay-at-home order to...

Cryptocurrency2 hours ago

Was Terra’s UST cataclysm the canary in the algorithmic stablecoin coal mine?

Was Terra’s UST cataclysm the canary in the algorithmic stablecoin coal mine? The past week has not been an easy...

World2 hours ago

Massachusetts identifies first 2022 U.S. case of monkeypox infection

2/2 © Reuters. An electron microscopic (EM) image shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virus particles as well as crescents and spherical...

Stock Markets2 hours ago

U.S. lodges labor complaint against Panasonic in Mexico

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A logo of Panasonic Corp is pictured at the CEATEC JAPAN 2017 (Combined Exhibition of Advanced...

Cryptocurrency2 hours ago

Meta trademark filing hints at plans for crypto payments platform

Meta trademark filing hints at plans for crypto payments platform Social media giant Facebook (NASDAQ:FB)’s parent company, Meta, may be...

Stock Markets2 hours ago

Cisco Shares Plunge 17% on Q3 Revenue Miss and Disappointing Outlook

Cisco Shares Plunge 17% on Q3 Revenue Miss and Disappointing Outlook Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) shares dropped around 17% after-hours Wednesday...

Stock Markets2 hours ago

Cisco shares plunge after China lockdowns, Ukraine crisis hits outlook

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Cisco Systems logo is seen as part of a display at the Microsoft Ignite technology...

Stock Markets2 hours ago

NASA set for Boeing’s Starliner uncrewed space capsule test

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Atlas V rocket carrying Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule is seen after the launch to the...

Stock Markets2 hours ago

Under Armour CEO Frisk to step down

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Under Armour clothing is seen for sale in a store in Manhattan, New York City, U.S.,...

World2 hours ago

Turkey’s Erdogan links Sweden, Finland NATO bid to return of ‘terrorists’

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan holds a news conference during the NATO summit at the Alliance’s headquarters...

Coronavirus2 hours ago

U.S. warns North Korea could greet Biden with nuclear, missile tests

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walks next to what state media reports is...

Trending