The Consortium

Iraqgate 'Fall Guy' Goes to Prison

Edward Johnson, a mid-level Teledyne Industries salesman, started his federal 3 1/2-year prison term on Jan. 4, even as his lawyers continue to insist he was an Iraqgate fall guy. Johnson was convicted in Miami last April of violating the Arms Export Control Act by shipping explosive zirconium pellets to Chile. There, the pellets were made into cluster bombs for the Iraqi air force.

Federal prosecutors won Johnson's conviction after excluding testimony by former Reagan national security aide Howard Teicher, who was asserting that CIA Director William J. Casey secretly authorized the cluster bomb shipments. After Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, senior U.S. officials, including President Bush, denied that any secret Iraqi arms program existed.

Armed with these denials, federal prosecutors convinced a judge to block Teicher's testimony. Without evidence of high-level authorization, Johnson, who earned only a modest living as a salesman and attended trial in a Sears off-the-rack suit, was found guilty. He was ordered to start his prison sentence while his appeals proceed.

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