Operation Stealth

December 10, 1991

If ever there were any doubt as to whether allegations of secret deals between Reagan campaign operatives and the Iranian outlaws to rig the 1980 election should be investigated by Congress, that doubt surely was removed by the disclosures by New York Times reporter Seymour Hersh (The Sun, Dec. 8) that massive shipments of weapons to Iran were secretly initiated within weeks after the Reagan administration came to office.

No longer are we talking about just speculation raised by witnesses of dubious credibility; Hersh is quoting the highest ranking officials of the Reagan administration in confirming the secret policy of supplying arms to Iran through the eager conduit of Israel. That policy was diametrically opposed to the new administration's public tough-talk in the so-called "Operation Staunch," the vaunted worldwide campaign by the U.S. to stop other nations from supplying Iran with weapons. The appropriate name, in retrospect, should be "Operation Stealth" -- a stealthy variance between public statements and private actions.

An embarrassed Secretary of State James Baker, who was on the White House staff at the time, virtually admitted in a television interview on Sunday that the secret shipments took place.

Reporter Hersh found no direct evidence of the secret meetings alleged to have been held prior to the 1980 election. But his story leaves no doubt that whether the meetings did or did not take place, certainly the terms of those alleged shadowy liaisons were carried out.

Reagan operatives and some writers maintain that Gary Sick, the National Security staff member who served in the Ford and Reagan administrations as well as the Carter administration, relied on known liars to support his allegation that the secret deals took place. But Hersh's investigation demonstrates that if any lies were being told, it was by the Reagan administration.

Some Republicans in Congress still resist a full investigation. This is puzzling, because each new piece of information adds to the growing body of circumstantial evidence to support Sick's suspicions. In light of this accumulation, even former President Reagan ought to demand a formal inquiry, if only to clear his name of a charge which, if true, would be the most scandalous piece of political chicanery in the nation's history.

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