GENERAL POST-WORLD WAR II

1980s

Iran-Contra

A - R

Armstrong, Scott, et al. [National Security Archive]. The Chronology: The Documented Day-to-Day Account of the Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Contras. New York: Warner, 1987.

NameBase: "The Chronology draws on some government documents, but this is mostly a compilation of Iran-contra tidbits from the media, beginning in 1980 and getting progressively more detailed through 1986 -- a year that takes 400 pages of the book. It is valuable for researchers who need to understand how specific events may have fit into a larger pattern. There is a complete index and no conclusion."

Bradlee, Ben, Jr. Guts and Glory: The Rise and Fall of Oliver North. New York: Donald I. Fine, 1988.

Published before the resurrection of North as political candidate and frontperson for "Christian" right-wing causes.

Bruemmer, Russell J., and Marshall H. Silverberg. "The Impact of the Iran-Contra Matter on Congressional Oversight of the CIA." Houston Journal of International Law 11, no. 1 (1988): 219-243.

Bruemmer was CIA General Counsel from 1988 to 1990; Silverberg served as CIA Assistant General Counsel.

Cinquegrana, Americo R. "Dancing in the Dark: Accepting the Invitation to Struggle in the Context of 'Covert Action,' The Iran-Contra Affair and the Intelligence Oversight Process." Houston Journal of International Law 11, no. 1 (Fall 1988): 177-209.

Petersen: "Analysis of oversight legislation and executive orders 1976-1988."

Clarridge, Duane R. ("Dewey"), with Digby Diehl. A Spy for All Seasons: My Life in the CIA. New York: Scribner's, 1997.

Clark comment: These are the memoirs of a long-time, senior CIA officer whose personal and sartorial eccentricities are known to all who came into contact with him. Clarridge's close association with running the Reagan administration's anti-Sandinista war, as well as with other major operations in his lengthy career, makes this book interesting reading. Click for reviews of Clarridge's memoirs.

Cohen, William S. [Sen.; R-ME] and George J. Mitchell [Sen.; D-ME] Men of Zeal: A Candid Inside Story of the Iran-Contra Hearings. New York: Viking Penguin, 1988.

Petersen notes that this book is "based on Congressional hearings" and "discusses CIA involvement." See also, Johnson, IJI&C 2.4 (1988).

Currie, James T. "Iran-Contra and Congressional Oversight of the CIA." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 11, no. 2 (Summer 1998): 185-210.

This is a quick and opinionated overview of Congressional oversight of the CIA before, during, and after the Iran-Contra affair.

Draper, Theodore. A Very Thin Line: The Iran-Contra Affair. New York: Hill and Wang, 1991.

In Lowenthal's view, Draper "does not achieve his goal of complete objectivity, but this is a very useful account of the complex series of operations." Luxenberg, WPNWE, 17-23 Jun. 1991, says that the book contains "nothing much that is new or startling about either the Iran arms sale or the Reagan administration's secret resupply of the contras in defiance of Congress." Nevertheless, Draper "has written a readable and detailed narrative that ... may be the standard reference for anyone who does not wish to go to the source documents."

Feldman, Daniel L. "Constitutional Dimensions of the Iran-Contra Affair." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 2, no. 3 (Fall 1988): 381-397.

"The balance between security concerns, reflected in executive secrecy, and the free flow of information, necessary for informed dissent and debate, has shifted too far toward secrecy, and should be shifted back to a balance between the two."

Fisher, Louis. "Review Essay: How to Avoid Iran-Contras." California Law Review 76 (1993): 919-929.

Hershberg, James G. "The War in Afghanistan and the Iran-Contra Affair: Missing Links?" Cold War History 3, no. 3 (Apr. 2003): 23-48.

From Abstract: This article "draws together declassified evidence to trace previously ignored connections" between the Soviet war in Afghanistan and the Iran-Contra affair. It demonstrates that "the secret arms dealings with Iran carried out by the Reagan administration's National Security Council staff included provisions for Tehran to transfer some of the American weapons it received to pro-Iranian mujaheddin in Afghanistan, and that covert cooperation against the Soviets in Afghanistan constituted an important dimension of the clandestine dialogue carried on by US and Iranian representatives."

Koh, Harold Hongju. The National Security Constitution: Sharing Power After the Iran-Contra Affair. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990. KF4651/.K64

According to Valcourt, IJI&C 4.2, Koh is a Yale law professor and former adviser in the Office of Legal Counsel of the Department of Justice. "The Iran-Contra affair constituted a 'fundamental interbranch dispute over what the rule of law governing national security should be.'... Congress perhaps did not 'so much misdefine its institutional task as leave it unfinished." The National Security Constitution "consists of the U.S. Constitution and several legislative enactments pertaining to foreign policy.... [M]ost presidents have misused this [military and intelligence] power by committing U.S. forces to overt or covert action without having obtained sufficient consensus from Congress and the public." This is a "thoughtful book on the current state of the relationship between the executive and the legislative branches."

Kornbluh, Peter.

1. "The Iran-Contra Scandal: A Postmortem." World Policy Journal 5, no. 1 (Winter 1987-1988): 130-131.

2. and Malcolm Byrne, eds. The Iran-Contra Scandal: The Declassified History, A National Security Archive Documents Reader. New York: New Press, 1993.

Surveillant 3.2/3: "101 documents."

Ledeen, Michael A. Perilous Statecraft: An Insider's Account of the Iran-Contra Affair. New York: Scribner's, 1988.

Butterfield, New York Times, 27 Nov. 1988, notes that the author, an NSC consultant who first met with Manucher Ghorbanifar, "says that in an effort to preserve the lives of the Iranians involved, he destroyed all his notes, and he rarely offers attribution for key passages. The result is an often self-serving account."

For Bensky, Los Angeles Times, 18 Dec. 1988, acceptance of Ledeen's "approach to Iran-Contra requires a leap into Ledeenland unjustified by either known facts or the opinions of most others. Those predisposed to inhabit that territory, composed of ideological rigidity, heroic self-aggrandizement and a good measure of fantasy, will find happy reading" in this book.

MacFarlane, Robert C., and Zofia Smardz. Special Trust. New York: Cadell & Davis, 1994.

Proceedings 121.4 (Apr. 1995): "MacFarlane recounts his decades of service and in doing so provides a revealing look at the inner workings of the foreign policy crafted by the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan Administrations. Not surprisingly, a large part of this book is devoted to his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal -- which he deals with both forcefully and with candor."

Marshall, Jonathan, Peter Dale Scott, and Jane Hunter. The Iran-Contra Connection: Secret Teams and Covert Operations in the Reagan Era. Boston: South End Press, 1987.

Petersen notes that the subject matter of this book is "[a]lleged CIA drug running and ties to terrorism." NameBase says "[t]his is one of the better books on Iran-contra, written by three excellent investigative writers.... [T]he heavy footnoting ... makes the book useful as a source that in turn can point to other, more obscure sources."

McCullough, James. "Personal Reflections on Bill Casey's Last Month at CIA: Coping with Iran-Contra." Studies in Intelligence 39, no. 5 (1996): 75-91.

The author was Director of the DCI Executive Staff during this time period. As he notes, what he has to say "probably will disappoint conspiracy theorists" but it does "have the ring of truth to those who have actually experienced the rough-and-tumble of Washington politics." Anyone interested in the CIA's role in the aftermath of the Iran-Contra affair should read this article. If readers do not believe McCullough's conclusion, so be it: "Bill Casey ... does not deserve to have his memory stained by false charges of involvement in a conspiracy to conceal the facts of the Iran affair. It just did not happen that way."

David Gries, who was Director of the Office of Congressional Affairs at the time of the events of November-December 1986, supplies a brief "commentary" on McCullough's article (pp. 93-94). Gries calls the deterioration of Casey a "tragedy" in which "a larger-than-life man [was] destroyed by a small tumor, just at the time when he needed all his powers to defend himself from questionable charges." Gries blames "vertical compartmentation" within the CIA for the failings that "led much of the public to an inaccurate, but understandable, conclusion[: that] CIA was deeply involved in the affair, and Bill Casey was its mastermind."

North, Oliver L.

1. Taking the Stand: The Testimony of Lt. Col. Oliver L. North. New York: Pocket Books, 1987.

2. with William Novak. Under Fire: An American Story. New York: HarperCollins, 1990.

Cannon, WPNWE, 16-22 Dec. 1991, notes "North's effort [in this book] to hold himself harmless." And in what is a particular good line, the reviewer comments that DCI William Casey "had many enemies but he apparently needed none of them with a friend like Ollie North."

Peterzell, Jay. "Timely Does Not Mean Never: Notice to Congress of the Iran Arms Deal." First Principles 12, no. 2 (Apr. 1987): 1-6.

Pincus, Walter. "Hung Out to Dry with the Dirty Linen?" Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 16-22 Sep. 1991, 33.

The two CIA officers, James L. Adkins and Joseph Fernandez, forced to leave the agency in the wake of the Iran-Contra affair "believe they were made scapegoats for more senior agency officials who wanted to protect their own careers."

 

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