GOP presidential hopeful Jeb Bush has some “‘splainin to do” over his knowledge of the 1979-80 operations by his father’s loyalists within the Central Intelligence Agency to deny President Jimmy Carter a second term by ensuring Iran maintained custody of the U.S. embassy hostages in Tehran until after the November 1980 presidential election.
A recent document uncovered by WMR from the CIA archives indicates that the man who gave Jeb Bush his CIA indoctrination before heading off to represent Texas Commerce Bank in Caracas in 1977, Robert Gambino, the deputy director for security, had an official relationship with Ted Shackley, a Bush loyalist who was fired by Carter’s CIA director, Admiral Stansfield Turner. After his retirement from the CIA in 1980, Gambino went to work for the Bush and then Bush-Reagan presidential campaign, where he reported to Reagan campaign manager William Casey, Reagan’s CIA director. Within the campaign, Gambino worked with Shackley, a veteran of CIA operations in Cuba, Chile, and Southeast Asia. Shackley was also later involved heavily in the Iran-contra scandal, which was laid by independent counsel Lawrence Walsh directly at the doorstep of Vice President George H. W. Bush.
As Jeb Bush turns up the heat on President Obama over the Iran nuclear pact and as President Carter confronts the most formidable challenge of his life, fighting liver cancer that has spread to other parts of his body, a full accounting by Jeb Bush over his role in the October Surprise—a Reagan-Bush-Casey gambit to convince Ayatollah Khomeini to keep the U.S. hostages in return for weapons shipments (“arms-for-no-hostages” as opposed to the later “arms-for-hostages” conspiracy) must be made.
In May 1976, CIA Director Bush appointed Shackley deputy director of clandestine operations. Shackley retired from the agency in 1979 after Turner continued his purge of Bush loyalists from the clandestine service and operations ranks. During Bush’s 1980 presidential and vice presidential campaigns, Shackley met weekly with Bush. Jeb Bush and Gambino also worked closely with Shackley. George H W Bush has always denied that he participated in the October Surprise scandal that saw the Republican campaign deal directly with Iran on holding the hostages and dealing a fatal blow to Carter’s re-election. In his father’s stead, Jeb Bush’s involvement in the 1980 campaign and his close connections to Shackley and Gambino demand a full accounting from the 2016 presidential hopeful.
An October 24, 1978, Top Secret CIA memo to Gambino, in which CIA responsibility for Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) clearances was proposed to be transferred to Gambino, describes how Gambino and Shackley worked together with “a few other groups” to defeat Carter’s and Turner’s proposed streamlining of the SCI compartmentation behemoth, which grew to over 50 special access programs under Bush’s one-year tenure.
The CIA past of George H W Bush certainly troubled Bush’s 1988 Democratic opponent for the White House, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis. An April 16, 1988 memo from William Baker, the CIA’s director of Public Affairs, describes how the statements of Dukakis and Jesse Jackson about Bush’s CIA past were being monitored closely by the CIA and being transmitted to the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence.
One statement by Dukakis alarmed the Bush loyalists within the CIA. On January 29, 1988, UPI reported that Dukakis said, “The next president should convert the CIA from an organization that ‘assassinates people’ into an organization that advises presidents. Dukakis added, “We have to decide in this country what the CIA is going to be—an independent agency or an assassination agency . . . the next president also must appoint agency heads who ‘respect the law and human rights.’”
After President Carter’s defeat in 1980, lame duck CIA director Turner, according to an internal CIA memo, decided to strike some names off his official CIA Christmas card list. These were obviously critics of himself and Carter. They included:
Senator and Mrs. Henry Bellmon
Senator and Mrs. Lloyd Bentsen
Senator and Mrs. Dale Bumpers
Senator and Mrs. John Chaffee
Senator and Mrs. Thomas F. Eagleton
Senator and Mrs. Edward M. Kennedy
Senator and Mrs. James McClure
Senator and Mrs. Warren G. Magnuson
Senator and Mrs. Abraham Ribicoff
Senator and Mrs. Richard S. Schweiker
Senator and Mrs. Lowell P. Weicker, Jr.
Senator and Mrs. Milton R. Young
Congressman and Mrs. Jack Brooks
Congressman and Mrs. Bill Burlison
Congressman and Mrs. Melvin Price
Congressman and Mrs. Morris K. Udall
Congressman and Mrs. Jamie L. Whitten
Apparently, George H W Bush’s Christmas card list when he served his one year term as CIA director remains classified.
When George H W Bush became president, he appointed Gambino to head the Selective Service System. After his involvement in the Iran-contra scandal, Shackley fell out of sight. He died from cancer at his Bethesda, Maryland home in 2002.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).