Iraqgate Cover-Up Goes After Defense Lawers
WASHINGTON -- Outside the view of the national media, the
federal government is escalating its now-bipartisan war against
the Iraqgate allegations and those who made them. According to
legal sources, federal charges are being weighed against
attorneys and a former Reagan administration official for
publicizing claims that the CIA authorized covert military aid
to Saddam Hussein's Iraq during the 1980s.
A closed hearing was scheduled Dec. 14 in Miami for possible
sanctions against lawyers, who defended Teledyne Inc. and one of
its salesmen in a criminal case earlier this year. That hearing
was postponed. But sources said a federal grand jury has begun
hearing testimony on a related complaint over submission of a
defense affidavit in that case.
"There's something going on," said federal prosecutor Frank
Tamen. "I can confirm that." But Tamen refused to provide
anything more specific about the pending investigation.
Last January, defense attorney Gerald Houlihan angered the
federal prosecutors by publicly filing a sworn affidavit from
Howard Teicher, a staff aide on Ronald Reagan's National
Security Council. Teicher asserted that CIA Director William
J. Casey and his deputy, Robert M. Gates, "authorized, approved
and assisted" the delivery of cluster bombs to Iraq as part of a
covert strategy to bolster Saddam Hussein in his war with Iran.
But both the Bush and Clinton administrations have denied that
any such policy to arm Iraq existed. Immediately, the federal
government sealed Teciher's affidavit as a state secret, whileassailing his credibility. Teicher's statements were kept fromthe jury on grounds of relevance, and he was blocked
With Teicher's claims excluded, a Teledyne salesman named Edward
Johnson was convicted last April of illegally selling explosive
zirconium pellets to Chilean arms manufacturer Carlos Cardoen,
who then shipped them to Iraq as part of cluster bombs.
Though Johnson's appeal is expected to challenge the decision to
exclude Teicher's testimony, the Teledyne salesman must begin
serving a 3 1/2-year prison sentence on Jan. 4. Meanwhile, the
federal government is taking aim at those who came to
Johnson's defense. The possible criminal complaints against
them range from perjury to violation of federal secrecy rules.
Some defense attorneys expressed concern that the government's
strategy could intimidate lawyers who defend clients in national
security cases. "It scares you," said one lawyer close to the
defense. "It's intended to scare you." The lawyer spoke only
after an assurance of anonymity.
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