Saturday, June 21, 2003

John Kerry nailed Elliot Abrams in 1986. Bush Sr. pardoned Abrams in 1992. Abrams now serves in the White House.

'To Kerry's investigators, the operation smelled like a covert CIA plot. Suspicions about North's involvement intensified. By now the full committee, at Kerry's urging, had launched its investigation, and Kerry used an Oct. 10, 1986, hearing to interrogate Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams about whether the Reagan administration had involved foreign governments in arming the contras.

Elliott Abrams: "I can say that while I have been assistant secretary, which is about 15 months, we have not received a dime from a foreign government, not a dime, from any foreign government."

Senator Kerry: "We' being who?"

Abrams: "The United States."

Senator Kerry: "How about the contras?"

Abrams: "I don't know. But not that I am aware of and not through us. The thing is, I think I would know about it because if they went to a foreign government, a foreign government would want credit for helping the contras and they would come to us to say you want us to do this, do you, and I would know about that."

This testimony, and similar statements to a House committee, would result in Abrams pleading guilty to charges of withholding information from Congress. (He was pardoned by President George H. W. Bush in 1992, and now serves in the Bush White House.) Then, in early November 1986, a Lebanese newspaper broke the news of US arms sales to Iran. A few weeks later, the White House disclosed that funds from the sale had been diverted to supply the contras.

Suddenly, Kerry's theories didn't seem so far-fetched. He hoped this would be his moment to help lead the investigation into this extraordinary episode. The Iran-contra scandal was the top story in town, and there was worried talk in the halls of Congress that the United States might suffer another failed presidency.

But when congressional leaders chose the members of the elite Iran-contra committee, Kerry was left off. Those selected were consensus-politicians, not bomb-throwers.

The feeling among a disappointed Kerry and his staff was that the committee members were chosen to put a lid on things. "He was told early on they were not going to put him on it," Winer recalls. "He was too junior and too controversial.... They were concerned about the survival of the republic."'

My personal conjecture on this is that John Kerry has a personal stake in getting GW out of the White House. On the side of what is right and just, John Kerry the prosecutor turned Senator, still an investigator. This trait has taken him far and worried every Rebublican President since Nixon. John Kerry applies his investigation skills to everything he touches including the environment.

"John had a natural inclination to pursue environmental issues, and we hammered away on acid rain," recalled James S. Hoyte, who was Dukakis's environmental secretary from 1983 to 1988. "He threw his energy into it in a big way and gained a lot of visibility for the issue," said Hoyte, now at Harvard University as an assistant to the president and a lecturer." Read more in Part 5 of the Boston Globe Series....

This series from the Boston Globe has offered a wonderfully unbiased view of John Kerry, the man and the politican.


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