News Release

How Was Barr, Central to Iran-Contra Cover-up, Deemed Honorable?

Business Insider reports: “The House just voted to hold Attorney General William Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn in civil contempt.”

CBS News reports in: “In the 1990s, Joe Biden said William Barr was ‘one of the best’ attorneys general” that Biden stated: “As I know you know, but others should know, too, I truly enjoyed working with you when you were attorney general,” Biden told Barr, who had been President George H.W. Bush’s attorney general.

In 1992, Barr was instrumental to the Iran-Contra cover-up, which included trading missile sales to Iran for U.S. hostages in Lebanon, and using the proceeds of those arms sales to fund anti-Sandinista Contras in Central America — all in violation of U.S. law. As Bush’s attorney general, Barr advocated for the pardons that covered up the scandal.

Biden told Barr in 1995: “You were one of the best I have ever worked with, and there have been a lot of attorneys general since I have been here, and I mean that sincerely.” CBS News notes: “When Biden made that remark, he was the highest ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

ARUN GUPTA, arun.indypendent at gmail.com, @arunindy
Gupta is author of the piece “Let’s Talk About George H.W. Bush’s Role in the Iran-Contra Scandal” and was featured on an accuracy.org news release in December after it was reported that Barr was a “leading candidate” to become attorney general again: “Barr as AG? Bush and Trump Dovetail.” The release ran contrary to then-dominant conventional wisdom — showing the parallels between the Trump and George H.W. Bush administrations.

The release cited the work of the investigative reporter Robert Parry, founder of ConsortiumNews.com, and noted that the independent counsel examining the Iran-Contra scandal, Republican Lawrence Walsh, had indicted Casper Weinberger, Elliott Abrams and others. One of the indictments contained documents revealing that President Bush had been lying for years with his claim that he was “out of the loop” on the Iran-Contra decisions.

Walsh had discovered, too, that Bush had withheld his own notes about the Iran-Contra Affair, a discovery that elevated the President to a possible criminal subject of the investigation. But Bush had one more weapon in his arsenal. On Christmas Eve 1992, Bush destroyed the Iran-Contra investigation once and for all by pardoning Weinberger, Abrams and four other convicted or indicted defendants.

A January, 2019 news release from accuracy.org was headlined: “As Bush AG, Trump Nominee Barr Approved Cover-up Pardons” and noted that Walsh would later write in his book, Firewall: The Iran-Contra Conspiracy and Cover-Up: “George Bush’s misuse of the pardon power made the cover-up complete.”

In January of this year, between the time Barr was nominated to become attorney general again and when he took office, Elliott Abrams was named special envoy for Venezuela, becoming the latest Bush administration official to join the Trump administration. See accuracy.org news release: “Will Elliott Abrams, ‘Abettor of Genocide,’ do to Venezuela What he did to Guatemala?

In their December, 2018 profile of Barr, the New York Times made no mention of Barr’s role in covering up the Iran-Contra scandal. On Sunday, in a lengthy profile, the New York Times finally noted: “In his waning days in office, Mr. Bush resolved to pardon Mr. Weinberger. ‘I went over and told the president I thought he should not only pardon Caspar Weinberger, but while he was at it, he should pardon about five others,’ Mr. Barr later said. Mr. Walsh called the pardons ‘the last card’ in the cover-up.”

Also see by Sam Husseini from January, 2019: “Triumph of Conventional Wisdom: AP Expunges Iran-Contra Pardons from Barr’s Record” for the media watch group FAIR.