In October 1980, nothing worried the Reagan campaign as much as the possibility that the 52 hostages held by Iran might come home. A “paramilitary wing” created by Reagan’s campaign staff to prevent such a possibility was largely unreported in 1987.
The revelations report that then campaign manager William J. Casey headed an “October surprise” team engaging the services of both retired and active military personnel.
During the course of the 1980 campaign, campaign leaders Richard Allen, Edwin Meese, and Casey became concerned, almost to the point of paranoia (according to journalists Jack Germond and Jules Witcover) that Carter would get the hostages released thereby stealing away Reagan’s election momentum and assuring Carter of re-election. Following is a brief overview of the reported activities of Reagan’s “October 1980 surprise” team:
Various reports reveal that Casey’s “paramilitary wing” monitored U.S. military movements for the Reagan campaign, met with representatives of the Bani-Sadr government of Iran, and covertly obtained President Carter’s debate briefing materials prior to the November election.
These revelations alone carry enormous constitutional implications — private citizens soliciting military and intelligence assistance in monitoring U.S. government operations, private citizens meeting with foreign dignitaries in possible state negotiations, and private citizens clandestinely obtaining property of the United States President — and yet they were not followed up by the major media once discovered and revealed in small, non-mass media publications.
Even more disturbing is the issue of Iranian arms shipments. Documents confirm that within its first month, the Reagan administration gave a green light to Israel to resume its arms shipments to the Iranian government.
These revelations support former Iranian President Bani-Sadr’s assertion that the arms supply contract Iran signed with Israel in March 1981, less than two months after Reagan’s inauguration, was the payoff for delaying the release of the American hostages until after the November 4, 1980 election.
The hostages remained in captivity until January 20, 1981, the day Reagan took the oath of office, and they left Teheran minutes after he became president.
A conspiracy between a presidential candidate and a hostile foreign power against an incumbent president would seem to be without precedent in American history. At the very least, it would seem that the documented charges revealed by a few journalists last year deserved to be investigated for the benefit of the American public by the U.S. media.
L.A. WEEKLY, 7/10/87, “Reagan’s 1980 Hostage Deal,” by Barbara Honegger with Jim Naureckas, pp 12, 14, 16; THE NATION, 6/20/87 (p 842), 7/4/87 (p 7), 8/1/87 (p 80), 10/24/87 (p 440), 11/21/87 (p 582), “Minority Report,” all by Christopher Hitchens; S.F. EXAMINER, 7/12/87, “October Surprise,” by Warren Hinckle, p A-13.