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The Education Forum

The Corruption of Ronald Reagan

John Simkin

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Thought that members might be interested in Ronald Reagan's record of corruption (I know Tim Gtatz makes regular visits to see what we are saying about the Republican Party:


Conservative Republicans are such paragons of virtue and truth that they claim that Bill Clinton's administration was "the most corrupt administration in American history" despite the fact that history contradicts everything about that statement.

Despite the fact that the President and first lady, and many members of the Clinton administration were charged with crimes, their accusers fell flat on their faces when they had to prove their trumped up charges in court almost every time, because there was no credible evidence or witnesses to justify the charges brought by their Republican enemies and touted by their countless friends in the mainstream media.

Contrast that to the great numbers of the Republican administration of Ronald Reagan who were not just charged, but were found guilty, but which most Americans don't remember because the so-called "Liberal media" rarely, if ever, make any mention of them. See the actual names & crimes below.

The contenders for the title of "the most corrupt administration in American history" are all Republican administrations. It may be hard to order them exactly, but the contenders for the first, second, third & fourth "most corrupt administrations in American history" are the Republican administrations of Grant, Harding, Nixon and Reagan.

Ronald Reagan's Criminal Administration:

Ronald Reagan's Cabinet

"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 Attorney General Edwin Meese, was sentenced to six years in prison and fined $250,000 in connection with the Wedtech influence-peddling scandal.

Although not convicted, Edwin Meese III, resigned as Reagan's Attorney General after having been the subject of investigations by the United States Office of the Independent Counsel on two occasions (Wedtech and Iran-Contra), during the 3 short years he was in office.

Then there was:

* James Watt, Reagan's Secretary of the Interior was 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.

* 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.

* 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 Gorscuh Burford resigned amid accusations she politically manipulated the Superfund money.

* 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.

* 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. (Republicans will point out that Donovan was acquitted. And that really matters in Donovan's case, because he was a Republican. But it didn't matter for Clinton or any of his cabinet, most all of whom were acquitted, because THEY were Democrats!)

* 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.

* 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.

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. . . Despite their many public lies about the matter, it was eventually proven that the Sales of weapons to Iran, followed by illegal financial support of the Central American Contras were carried out with the knowledge of, among others, President Ronald Reagan, Vice President George Bush, Secretary of State George P. Shultz, Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger, Director of Central Intelligence William J. Casey, and national security advisers Robert C. McFarlane and John M. Poindexter. Of these officials, only Weinberger and Shultz dissented from the policy decision. Weinberger eventually acquiesced and ordered the Department of Defense to provide the necessary arms. Large volumes of highly relevant, contemporaneously created documents were systematically and willfully withheld from investigators by several Reagan Administration officials in an attempt to cover up the administration's extensive corruption.

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The Republican worship of Reagan, as demonstrated above, is indeed a mystery. What it comes down to for all too many is that Reagan made them feel good about themselves and their country. The President as cheerleader as opposed to de facto leader. The current President has attempted to emulate him, only he lacks Reagan's personal warmth and the ability to get his political enemies to respect or like him.

Some of the Reagan faithful have started a movement to put him on the American dime, replacing Franklin Roosevelt, a man Reagan admired. They started printing up these dimes and are now selling them on late night TV for ten bucks apiece. This would seem to be the perfect symbol for the Reagan era: RIP-OFF.

To Americans, there appeared to have been parallels between the Reagan and Thatcher eras. Was her Administration as scandal-ridden as Reagan's?

Edited by Pat Speer
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One of the most sickening acts of Regans stint was his refusal to fund aids awareness causes in the United States due to his disgust with homosexuals.

Reagan was shown an aids pamphlet with a depiction of two men kissing on the cover and then banned financial aid to this organisation.

UK members may have seen a two part documentary on channel four a month ago about the aids epidemic. It was quite an eye opener on how one mans beliefs can sentence many to death because of a lifestyle choice. He was truly sickening in that respect.


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To Americans, there appeared to have been parallels between the Reagan and Thatcher eras. Was her Administration as scandal-ridden as Reagan's?

Don't get the Brits started! Basically, the answer is yes. One parallel between the Republicans in the US and the Conservatives in the UK is that they both see themselves as the 'natural party of government', thus making any opposition to anything they want to do as de facto illegitimate, no matter what the basis for the opposition.

Mrs Thatcher's Conservatives felt that anything they did was OK, so they weren't averse to diverting public funds the way of their supporters. One of the first ways this was felt was on the level of petty local corruption. I remember a gushing article in the Sunday Telegraph magazine in about 1981, entitled 'Mrs Thatcher's New Millionaires', describing the fortunes of people who had made a million pounds since 1979 when Mrs Thatcher's government took office. When you looked at these stories in detail, 9 out of the 10 had made their money by tapping into the public purse and siphoning off as much as they wanted.

One scam was to open a social security hostel for people who were on benefits, but had nowhere to live. You'd buy up a slum property and put a whole family in one small room. A packet of Cornflakes each week and a couple of pints of milk meant that you were offering 'bed and breakfast accommodation', which the Social Services were instructed (by Whitehall) to treat as full-time accommodation subject to pay-outs of very large sums of money each week.

Then you throw the family out at about 7 am each morning and keep the doors locked until after 6 pm … minimal cleaning and maintenance … and you're a millionaire!

This kind of corruption was mirrored in the provision of beds in private old peoples' homes, private schools, 'job training' for the unemployed, etc, etc. It's one of the reasons why the British economy did so badly in the early 1980s (whenever you read something about how well the economy did under Thatcher, look for the starting date for the comparison - it's usually about 1983 … not 1979 when she came into power). We were paying very large sums of money for much poorer services. In my view there were two aims for this policy: to frighten the poor into acquiescing to the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich; and to enrich buddies and supporters.

If you've been following John Simkin's thread on corruption under Blair, you can see that the modus operandi Thatcher started has just been emulated by New Labour … depressing, isn't it.

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If you've been following John Simkin's thread on corruption under Blair, you can see that the modus operandi Thatcher started has just been emulated by New Labour … depressing, isn't it.

On BBC Radio 4 yesterday Tariq Ali said that he considered the New Labour government to be more corrupt than the Conservative regime (1979-1997). I agree. However, most people are unwilling to accept this analysis. I am sure that in time all this will be revealed. This includes the real reason why we invaded Iraq, the corrupt awarding of PFI contracts, loans for honours, New Labour’s relationship with people like Rupert Murdoch, Lord Drayson, Lord Levy, etc. and its involvement with the arms industry and the international gambling community.

Like with the JFK assassination, Watergate, the CIA overthrow of democratically elected governments, the Iran-Contra scandal, the people are unwilling to accept that the system is so corrupt. This is especially true of the idea that our media is willing to protect our corrupt governments. The big change is in technology. They can't get away with it today in the same way as they did in the past. There is a good article in the Guardian today that explains how the current Prescott scandal has been driven by online journalists. As one of the main figures in this exposure, Paul Staines, http://5thnovember.blogspot.com/, has pointed out, his main source are young journalists who have had their stories spiked by the national press.

Also take a look at Iain Dale's blog: http://iaindale.blogspot.com/ Both Staines and Dale are far to the right of me but as long as they are exposing corruption in government, it is ok by me.


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