Also entertaining -- although perhaps not altogether enlightening -- is this transcript of a Ted Koppel Nightline episode from 1991, when Gates was nominated to head the CIA. Note in particular cameo appearances by Richard Perle, arms dealer Serki Saghanalian [sic -- obviously an error for Sarkis Soghanalian], Carlos Cardoen, and Stephen BryenEntertaining, and darkly amusing. There's nothing new under the sun - up to and including the same people using the equivalent of false end-user-certificates.
"KOPPEL: Think about it for a moment. What was the biggest single scandal of the Reagan administration in which the will of Congress was circumvented by the use of private arms dealers selling weapons in the Middle East? Iran/Contra, right. It's a scandal that resonates to this day, that caused Robert Gates to withdraw his first nomination as CIA director and that still casts a shadow on his confirmation hearings that are due to begin on Monday. But it is becoming increasingly clear that the issue of aid to Iraq will be another major focus of his hearings. The sheer quantity of technology, weapons and money that were transferred to Iraq over roughly the same period dwarfs anything that went to Iran. Remember, official U.S. policy was that no help should go to either side. In reality, the Reagan administration was split, some senior officials supporting Iran, others Iraq.
Mr. BRYEN: [voice-over] Earlier in the decade, during the bloody Iran-Iraq war, Cardoen provided tens of thousands of low-tech bombs, again employing U.S. technology. Cardoen had purchased in the United States key equipment from two munitions factories, which he shipped to Chile. He did that at a time when the U.S. arms embargo against Chile was in effect.
KOPPEL: [On camera] With Robert Gates about to begin his confirmation hearings on Monday, the CIA in particular has taken great pains to emphasize that neither Gates personally nor the agency as a whole has had any type of relationship with Carlos Cardoen. The agency even faxed us a letter that Cardoen wrote last July to the U.S. ambassador in Chile. In that letter, Cardoen denies that he was a conduit for the agency and denies ever meeting Robert Gates.
[Voice-over] Indeed, Cardoen, who is currently facing several grand jury investigations, complains bitterly in his letter that he is being unjustly persecuted by the U.S. Government. He claims he has kept them thoroughly informed of all his commercial activities through the U.S. Embassy in Santiago.
Which brings us to James Theberge, who was, in the mid-1980s, U.S. ambassador to Chile. Shortly after leaving his post in 1985, Ambassador Theberge went to work for Carlos Cardoen, heading up one of his offices, Swissco Management Group, here in Washington.
LT. COL. RICARDSON: Ambassador Theberge's functions for Cardoen was probably one of opening doors, setting up marketing programs for Cardoen, and kind of the same thing that I did, except obviously at a little higher level.
KOPPEL: As we've reported over the past few months, the Atlanta branch of an Italian bank, BNL, was able to funnel billions, some of it in U.S. credits, to Iraq's military procurement network. The U.S. government knew and turned a blind eye.
Sophisticated military technology was illegally transferred from a major U.S. company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania to South Africa and Chile and, from there, on to Iraq. The Iraqi-born designer of a chemical weapons plant in Libya set up shop in Florida, producing and then shipping to Iraq chemical weapon components. The CIA, the FBI and other federal agencies were made aware of the operation and did nothing to prevent it.
During the 1980s and into the '90s, senior officials of both the Reagan and Bush administrations encouraged the privatization of foreign policy, certainly towards Iran and Iraq. The policy may have had merit, but they weren't willing or, in some instances, weren't successful in fighting it out on Capital Hill. So they found other ways. They made a mockery of the export control system, they found ways of encouraging foreign governments to do what our laws prohibited. They either knew or, if not, were guilty of the grossest incompetence, that U.S. companies were collaborating with foreign arms merchants in the illegal transfer of American technology that helped Saddam Hussein build his formidable arsenal."