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Reagan’s Treason: October Surprise and the $23 Million Payoff

This week, a Texas pol, Ben Barnes, confessed that he was personally involved—and therefore an eyewitness to–high treason: The Ronald Reagan campaign’s successful secret deal with the Iranian government to hold 52 Americans hostage so that Reagan could defeat Jimmy Carter.

Reagan’s skanky deal worked. In 1980, Carter’s failure to bring home the hostages destroyed his chance of reelection. Reagan ultimately would repay the favor from Iran’s murder-crats with weapons and even, for the Ayatollah Khomeini, a birthday cake from Reagan advisor Oliver North.

November 9, 1979: Blindfolded American hostages outside the U.S. embassy in Tehrān.

The question is, why now? Why did Barnes suddenly blow the whistle on this crime—and a crime it is—four decades late? His cute excuse, reported without question by the New York Times, is that, “History needs to know that this happened.”

Wrong. “History” doesn’t need to know—American voters needed to know about Reagan’s treason before the 1980 election.

So, then, why did Barnes squirrel away the truth for decades? Follow the money.

It’s a money trail that leads to two Bushes who would not have become president if not for Barnes’ silence about Iran—and Barnes’ omertà about another creepy Bush scheme.

Palast in front of Texas Air Guard fighter. From the BBC film, Bush Family Fortunes
You can download the film for free this week

In 1999, for The Guardian, I discovered that Barnes, in his previous role as Lt. Governor of Texas, used his political juice to get Congressman George Bush Sr.’s son, “Dubya” into the Texas Air Guard—over literally thousands of far-more-qualified applicants. (Little Bush scored 25 out of 100 on the test, just one point above “too dumb to fly.”)

And so, Dubya dodged the draft and Vietnam.

Barnes hid the truth about Bush’s draft dodging despite pleas from Texas Gov. Ann Richards, who, in 1994, lost a squeaker of an election to Dubya.

In Austin, Texas, I received unshakeable evidence that Barnes was the fixer who got Congressman Bush’s son out of the Vietnam draft. (This, while Bush Sr. was voting to send other men’s sons to Vietnam.)

What did Barnes get for his burial of Reagan’s deal with Iran and Bush Jr.’s draft dodging?

In 1999, I was investigating a company, GTech, which ran both the British and Texas lotteries. Texas had disqualified GTech from operating the state lottery based on strong evidence of corruption. But oddly, the new Governor of Texas, George W. Bush, fired the lottery director who banned GTEch. Then Bush’s new lottery commissioner gave GTech back its multi-billion-dollar contract, no bidding.

Notably, Bush’s firing of the state’s lottery director came two days after a meeting with GTech’s lobbyist—Ben Barnes.

Barnes’ fees from GTech? $23 million.

I wasn’t in the Bush-Barnes little tête-à-tête: the info came from a confidential memo from the lottery director that was well buried inside Justice Department files.

In a civil suit, Barnes supposedly denied any quid pro quo with Gov. Bush. Maybe. A nice payment from GTech to the wronged lottery director sealed Barnes’ testimony from the public.

GW Bush in 2003 on aircraft carrier announcing “Mission Accomplished [in Iraq]

Maybe Bush met with Barnes just to reminisce. But if Barnes had the Bush family’s entire political fortune in his pocket, did he really need to remind Dubya of the consequences if the Governor did not take care of Barnes’ client?

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Secretly conspiring with a foreign power to keep Americans imprisoned, secretly negotiating with and providing weapons to a foreign enemy is the definition of treason—and so would a cover-up for cash.

This was another example, I wrote in The Guardian, how the Bushes turned America into “the best democracy money can buy.”

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I then wrote a book of that title and made a film, Bush Family Fortunes, detailing the Bush Family crime-wave, for BBC Television.

Today, you can download that documentary, Bush Family Fortunes, free of charge. (If you want to throw in a tax-deductible donation, hey, we won’t say ‘no.’ Our investigations continue: The cast of characters has changed, but not the crimes.)

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And a word about the creeps, cowards and conmen who call themselves “journalists.” Let’s start with a trivia question: Who is Dan Rather? He’s a former TV star and one-time reporter who took my story of Bush’s draft dodging, stuck it on 60 Minutes and, in violation of any sense of ethics and decency, exposed a whistleblower, Texas Air Guard Col. Bill Burkett, a man of inestimable courage and integrity.

Rather’s exposure ruined Burkett. No Texan would sell him feed. His cattle were dying, so he lost his ranch.

Dan Rather was fired by CBS for getting the network in hot water with the Bush White House. Then, by his own admission, Rather agreed to backtrack on the story of Bush the draft dodger in return for a promise of a return to the CBS airwaves. CBS screwed Rather—but that often happens to feckless recreants.

Neither I nor the BBC nor The Guardian retracted a single word of our story of Dubya the Draft Dodger nor the tale of the $23 million questionable payment.

There are zeroes—and there are heroes. The story of Reagan and his “October Surprise” was first busted open by Robert Parry – who also uncovered the Iran-Contra scandal. Instead of getting a Pulitzer, Parry’s career was destroyed. For uncovering too many uncomfortable truths, he was bounced from the Associated Press, Newsweek, Bloomberg, and The Nation.

Parry died in 2018, in journalistic exile.

Greg Palast (Rolling Stone, Guardian, BBC) is the author of The New York Times bestsellers, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits and the book and documentary,
The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.
His latest film is Vigilante: Georgia's Vote Suppression Hitman

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