Sunday, June 06, 2004

For those who wax nostalgic for the Reagan administration...

Let's look back at Ronald Reagan's Administration:

By the end of his term, 138 Reagan administration officials had been convicted, had been indicted, or had been the subject of official investigations for official misconduct and/or criminal violations. In terms of number of officials involved, the record of his administration was the worst ever.

* Lyn Nofziger--Convicted on charges of illegal lobbying of White House in Wedtech scandal.

* Michael Deaver-- received three years' probation and was fined one hundred thousand dollars after being convicted for lying to a congressional subcommittee and a federal grand jury about his lobbying activities after leaving the White House.

* E. Bob Wallach-- close friend and law classmate of Atty General Edwin Meese, was sentenced to six years in prison and fined $250,000 in connection with the Wedtech influence-peddling scandal.

Then there was:

* James Watt, Reagan's Secretary of the Interior-- indicted on 41 felony counts for using connections at the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help his private clients seek federal funds for housing projects in Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Watt conceded that he had received $500,000 from clients who were granted very favorable housing contracts after he had intervened on their behalf. In testifying before a House committee Watt said: "That's what they offered and it sounded like a lot of money to me, and we settled on it." Watt was eventually sentenced to five years in prison and 500 hours of community service.

Two types of problems typified the ethical misconduct cases of the Reagan years, and both had heavy consequences to citizens everywhere. One stemmed from ideology and deregulatory impulses run amok; the other, from classic corruption on a grand scale.

* The Pentagon procurement Scandal, which resulted from the Republicans' enormous infusion of money too quickly into the Defense Department after the lean Carter years.

* Massive fraud and mismanagement in the Department of Housing and Urban Development throughout Reagan's eight years. These were finally documented in congressional hearings in spring 1989, after Reagan left office. Cost the taxpayers billions of dollars in losses. What made this scandal most shameful was that Reagan's' friends and fixers profited at the expense of the poor, the very people HUD and the federal government were pledged to assist through low-income housing.

* The Iran-Contra Scandal. In June, 1984, at a National Security Council meeting, CIA Director Casey urged President Reagan to seek third-party aid for the Nicaraguan contras. Secretary of State Schultz warned that it would be an "impeachable offense" if the U.S. government acted as conduit for such secret funding. But that didn't stop them. That same day, Oliver North was seeking third-party aid for the contras. But Reagan, the "teflon President" avoided serious charges or impeachment.

* Oliver North-- Convicted of falsifying and destroying documents, accepting an illegal gratuity, and aiding and abetting the obstruction of Congress. Conviction overturned on appeal due to legal technicalities.

* John Poindexter, Reagan's national security advisor, --guilty of five criminal counts involving conspiracy to mislead Congress, obstructing congressional inquiries, lying to lawmakers, used "high national security" to mask deceit and wrong-doing.

* Richard Secord pleaded guilty to a felony charge of lying to Congress over Iran-Contra.

* Casper Weinberger was Secretary of Defense during Iran-Contra. In June 1992 he was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of concealing from congressional investigators and prosecutors thousands of pages of his handwritten notes. The personal memoirs taken during high level meetings, detailed events in 1985 and 1986 involving the Iran-Contra affair. Weinberger claimed he was being unfairly prosecuted because he would not provide information incriminating Ronald Reagan. Weinberger was scheduled to go on trial January 5, 1993, where the contents of his notes would have come to light and may have implicated other, unindicted conspirators. While Weinberger was never directly linked to the covert operations phase of the Iran-Contra affair, he is believed to have been involved in the cover-up of the ensuing scandal. According to Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh, Weinberger's notes contain evidence of a conspiracy among the highest ranking Reagan Administration officials to lie to congress and the American public. Some of the notes are believed to have evidence against then Vice-President George Bush who pardoned Weinberger to keep him from going to trial.

* Elliott Abrams was appointed by President Reagan in 1985 to head the State Department's Latin American Bureau. He was closely linked with ex-White House aide Lt. Col. Oliver North's covert movement to aid the Contras. Working for North, Abrams coordinated inter-agency support for the contras and helped solicit illegal funding from foreign powers as well as domestic contributors. Abrams agreed to cooperate with Iran-Contra investigators and pled guilty to two charges reduced to misdemeanors. He was sentenced in 1991 to two years probation and 100 hours of community service but was pardoned by President George Bush. . . That's right, folks! He's back!

* Robert C. McFarlane was appointed Ronald Reagan's National Security Advisor in October 1983 and become well-known as a champion of the MX missile program in his role as White House liaison to congress. In 1984, Mc Farlane initiated the review of U.S. policy towards Iran that led directly to the arms for hostages deal. He also supervised early National Security Council efforts to support the Contras. Shortly after the Iran-Contra scandal was revealed in early 1987, McFarlane took an overdose of the tranquilizer Valium in an attempt to end his life. In his own words: "What really drove me to despair was a sense of having failed the country." McFarlane pled guilty to four misdemeanors and was sentenced to two years probation and 200 hours of community service. He was also fined $20,000. He received a blanket pardon from President George Bush.

* Alan D. Fiers was the Chief of the Central Intelligence Agency's Central American Task Force. Fiers pled guilty in 1991 to two counts of withholding information from congress about Oliver North's activities and the diversion of Iran arms sale money to aid the Contras. He was sentenced to one year of probation and 100 hours of community service. Fiers agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for having his felonies reduced to misdemeanors and his testimony gave a boost to the long standing criminal investigation of Lawrence Walsh, Special Prosecutor. Fiers testified that he and three CIA colleagues knew by mid-1986 that profits from the TOW and HAWK missile sales to Iran were being diverted to the Contras months before it became public knowledge. Alan Fiers received a blanket pardon for his crimes from President Bush.

* Clair George was Chief of the CIA's Division of Covert Operations under President Reagan. In August 1992 a hung jury led U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth to declare a mistrial in the case of Clair George who was accused of concealing from Congress his knowledge of the Iran-Contra affair. George had been named by Alan Fiers when Fiers turned state's evidence for Lawrence Walsh's investigation. In a second trial on charges of perjury, false statements and obstruction of justice, George was convicted of lying to two congressional committees in 1986. George faced a maximum five year federal prison sentence and a $20,000 fine for each of the two convictions. Jurors cleared George of five other charges including two counts of lying to a federal grand jury. Those charges would have carried a mandatory 10 months in prison upon conviction. Clair George received a blanket pardon for his crimes from President George Bush.

* Duane R. (Dewey) Clarridge was head of the CIA's Western European Division under President Reagan. He was indicted on November 29, 1991 for lying to congress and to the Tower Commission that investigated Iran- Contra. Clarridge was charged with five counts of perjury and two counts of making false statements for covering up his knowledge of a November 25, 1985 shipment of HAWK missiles to Iran. Clarridge was also suspected of diverting to the Contras weapons that were originally intended for the Afghan mujahaddeen guerrillas. Clarridge received a blanket pardon for his crimes on Christmas Eve 1992 from President George Bush.

* Environmental Protection Agency's favoritism toward polluters. Assistant administrator unduly influenced by chemical industry lobbyists. Another administrator resigned after pressuring employees to tone down a critical report on a chemical company accused of illegal pollution in Michigan. The deputy chief of federal activities was accused of compiling an interagency "hit" or "enemies" list, like those kept in the Nixon Watergate period, singling out career employees to be hired, fired or promoted according to political beliefs.

* Anne Gorsuch Burford resigned amid accusations she politically manipulated the Superfund money. She's dropped the Burford, but she's still the same old _____!

* Rita Lavelle was fired after accusing a senior EPA official of "systematically alienating the business community." She was later indicted, tried and convicted of lying to Congress and served three months of a six-month prison sentence. After an extensive investigation, in August 1984, a House of Representatives subcommittee concluded that top-level EPA appointees by Reagan for three years "violated their public trust by disregarding the public health and the environment, manipulating the Superfund program for political purposes, engaging in unethical conduct and participating in other abuses."

* Neglected nuclear safety. A critical situation involving nuclear safety had been allowed to develop during the Reagan era. Immense sums, estimated at 200 billion or more, would be required in the 1990s to replace and make safe America's neglected, aging, deteriorating, and dangerous nuclear facilities.

* Savings & Loan Bail-out. Hundreds of billions of dollars were needed to bail out savings and loan institutions that either had failed during the deregulation frenzy of the eighties or were in danger of bankruptcy. . . Really helped Neil Bush out of his self-made jam!

* Reckless airline deregulation. Deregulation of airline industry took too broad a sweep, endangering public safety.


* Richard Allen, National Security adviser resigned amid controversy over an honorarium he received for arranging an interview with Nancy Reagan.

* Richard Beggs, chief administrator at NASA was indicted for defrauding the government while an executive at General Dynamics.

* Guy Flake, Deputy Secretary of Commerce, resigned after allegations of a conflict of interest in contract negotiations.

* Louis Glutfrida, Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency resigned amid allegations of misuses of government property.

* Edwin Gray, Chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank was charged with illegally repaying himself and his wife $26,000 in travel costs.

* Max Hugel, CIA chief of covert operations who resigned after allegations of fraudulent financial dealings.

* Carlos Campbell, Assistant Secretary of Commerce resigned over charges of awarding federal grants to his personal friends' firms.

* Raymond Donovan, Secretary of Labor indicted for defrauding the New York City Transit Authority of $7.4. million.

* John Fedders, chief of enforcement for the Securities and Exchange Commission resigned over charges of beating his wife.

* Arthur Hayes, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration resigned over illegal travel reimbursements.

* J. Lynn Helms, chief of the Federal Aviation Administration resigned over a grand jury investigation of illegal business activities.

* Marjory Mecklenburg, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources resigned over irregularities on her travel vouchers.

* Robert Nimmo, head of the Veterans Administration resigned when a report criticized him for improper use of government funds.

* J. William Petro, U.S. Attorney fired and fined for tipping off an acquaintance about a forthcoming Grand Jury investigation.

* Thomas C. Reed, White House counselor and National Security Council adviser resigned and paid a $427,000 fine for stock market insider trading. . . Poor Martha Stewart! It's a shame she wasn't a white male Reagan appointee!

* Emanuel Savas, Assistant Secretary of HUD resigned over assigning staff members to work on government time on a book that guilty to expense account fraud and accepting kickbacks on government contracts.

* Charles Wick, Director of the U.S. Information Agency investigated for taping conversations with public officials without their approval.

And the list goes on...

I, for one, will miss neither Ronald Reagan nor anyone in his corrupt administration.


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