[Author’s Note: This post is part of the 7 part series Conspiracy Check. The series factchecks the claims of Liberal commentator Thom Hartmann concerning allegations of fraud and treason during 5 presidential elections.]
Hartmann’s next conspiracy concerned the 1980 election. Hartmann alleged that Regan made a deal with the Iranians that they would not release the American hostages in Iran until after the election. In exchange for this Reagan allegedly agreed to give the Iranians weapons. The hostage crisis was a major blow to Carter’s reelection campaign.
There is quite a bit of evidence for this conspiracy. Journalist Robert Parry and his colleges at consortiumnews.com have also described the evidence for the October Surprise conspiracy in multiple articles. Israeli intelligence agent Ari Ben-Menashe supports the claim. A Russian intelligence report reached the same conclusion. Former Iranian president Bani-Sadr supported the allegation in a letter to the US Congress. David Andelman, the biographer of French intelligence chief Alexandre deMarenches, testified that de Marenches had told him that the Regan reelection campaign met with Iranians in Paris. Jamshid Hashemi, an Iranian arms trader, says that he arranged meetings between the Iranians and the Regan reelection campaign. Hashemi also alleges that George H.W. Bush met with Iranian representatives in Paris, a charge Bush has repeatedly denied.
Newsweek, the New Republic, and Congress all launched investigations into the October Surprise conspiracy theory and concluded that it didn’t occur. However, each relied on creating an alibi for William Casey such that he could not have attended a meeting in Madrid as Jamshid Hashemi had described. Robert Parry was able to discredit those alibis and in 2011 he found a memo from the George H.W. Bush Library that said that “a cable from the Madrid embassy indicated that Bill Casey was in town, for purposes unknown.”
So is the conspiracy true? Possibly, but I am going to hold off my conclusion until more classified documents from the George H.W. Bush Library that the library describes as relating to the allegation are declassified. However, there is enough evidence that I do not fault Hartmann for believing it is true.