America’s War on Terrorism: 9/11 and the Iran-Contra Scandal

Chapter 12
9/11 and the Iran-Contra Scandal

The Bush administration accuses people of having links to Al Qaeda. This is the national security doctrine behind the anti-terrorist legislation and Homeland Security. It is not only part of the Administration’s disinformation campaign, it is also used to arrest thousands of people on trumped up charges.

Ironically, several key members of the Bush Administration who were the architects of the anti-terrorist agenda, played a key role in supporting and financing Al Qaeda.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, who casually accused Baghdad and other foreign governments of “harboring” Al Qaeda, played an indirect role, during the Reagan administration, in supporting and financing Al Qaeda.

Both Colin Powell and his Deputy Richard Armitage, were implicated, having operated behind the scenes, in the Iran-Contra scan-dal during the Reagan Administration, which involved the illegal sale of weapons to Iran to finance the Nicaraguan Contra para-military army:

[Coronel Oliver] North set up a team including [Richard] Secord; Noel Koch [Armitage’s deputy], then assistant secretary at the Pentagon responsible for special operations; George Cave, a former CIA station chief in Tehran, and Colin Powell, military assistant to US Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger.(1)

Although Colin Powell was not directly involved in the arms transfer negotiations, which had been entrusted to Coronel Oliver North, he was, according to press reports, among “at least five men within the Pentagon who knew arms were being transferred to the

Lieutenant General Powell was directly instrumental in giving the “green light” to lower-level officials in blatant violation of con-gressional procedures. According to the New York Times, Colin Powell took the decision (at the level of military procurement), to allow the delivery of weapons to Iran:

Hurriedly, one of the men closest to Secretary of Defense Weinberger, Maj. Gen. Colin Powell, bypassed the written “focal point system” procedures and ordered the Defense Logistics Agency [responsible for procurement] to turn over the first of 2,008 TOW missiles to the CIA, which acted as cutout for delivery to Iran.(3)

Richard Armitage, who was Deputy Secretary of State during George W. Bush’s first term (2001-2004) played a key role in launch-ing the “war on terrorism” in the immediate wake of 9/11, leading to the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. (See Chapter 4.)

During the Reagan Administration, Armitage held the position of Assistant Secretary of Defense. He was in charge of coordinat-ing covert military operations including the Iran-Contra operation. He was in close liaison with Coronel Oliver North. His deputy and chief anti-terrorist official Noel Koch was part of the team set up by Oliver North. Following the delivery of the TOW anti-tank missiles to Iran, the proceeds of these sales were deposited in num-bered bank accounts and the money was used to finance the Nicaraguan Contra.(4)

A classified Israeli report provided to the Iran-Contra panels of the Congressional inquiry confirmed that Armitage “was in the picture on the Iranian issue.”(5)

With a Pentagon position that placed him over the military’s covert operations branch, Armitage was a party to the secret arms dealing from the outset. He also was associated with former national security aide Oliver L. North in a White House counterterrorism group, another area that would also have been a likely focus of congressional inquiry.(6)

Financing the Islamic Brigades

The Iran-Contra procedure was similar to that used in Afghanistan, where covert financial assistance had been channeled to the mili-tant “Islamic brigades”. Barely mentioned by the press reports, part of the proceeds of the weapons sales to Iran had been channeled to finance the Mujahideen:

The Washington Post reported that profits from the Iran arms sales were deposited in one CIA-managed account into which the US and Saudi Arabia had placed $250 million apiece. That money was dis-bursed not only to the Contras in Central America but to the rebels fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan.(7)

The Irangate Cover-up

In the wake of the Iran-Contra disclosure, Reagan’s National Security Adviser Rear Admiral John Pointdexter, later indicted on conspiracy charges and for lying to Congress, was replaced by Frank Carlucci. Major General Colin Powell was appointed deputy to Frank Carlucci, occupying a senior position on Reagan’s National Security team:

Both [Carlucci and Powell] came to the White House after the Iran-Contra revelations and the NSC [National Security Council] house-cleaning that followed [the Irangate scandal].(8)

This “housecleaning” operation was a cover-up, as Colin Powell was fully aware of the Iran-Contra affair.

While several Irangate officials including John Pointdexter and Oliver North were accused of criminal wrongdoing, several of the main actors in the CIA and the Pentagon, namely Armitage and Casey, were never indicted, neither was Lieutenant General Colin Powell who had authorized the procurement of TOW missiles from the Defense Logistics Agency and their delivery to Iran.

Moreover, while weapons were being sold covertly to Iran, Washington was also supplying weapons through official channels to Baghdad. In other words, Washington was arming both sides in the Iran-Iraq war. And Donald Rumsfeld, as Special Envoy to the Middle East under President Reagan, was put in charge of negoti-ating US weapons sales to Baghdad.


  1. The Guardian, 10 December 1986.
  2. The Record, 29 December 1986.
  3. The New York Times, 16 February 1987.
  4. UPI, 27 November 1987.
  5. The New York Times, 26 May 1989.
  6. Washington Post, 26 May 1989. See also US News and World Report, 15 December 1986..
  7. US News & World Report, 15 December 1986.
  8. The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, 16 June 1987.

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