Theres work at the retread shop

Always one to follow Daddy’s example, George Bush the Appointed has given a host of Bush Sr. retreads a number of prominent posts in his administration.

Starting with the most recent and working backwards, we find Admiral John Poindexter, now retired, heading the Information Awareness Office charged with developing high-tech systems capable of providing government officials with immediate access to surveillance and information-analysis systems – a handy tool when you’re fighting a war on terrorism.

Poindexter, once Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor, was bosom buddy with Oliver North in the Iran/Contra scandal that diverted profits from arms sales to Iran to finance arms purchases by the Nicaraguan Contras.

When caught with his pants down and later convicted of five felonies, Poindexter said he deliberately withheld information from the president because he wanted Reagan “to have some deniability so that he would be protected.”

Poindexter escaped prison when an appeals court ruled 2-1 in his favor. But the record remains– destruction of government documents and obstruction of justice, qualifications for a job for Arthur Andersen.

The Bushes have provided jobs for other members of the Iran/Contra secret government operating out of the White House basement:

• Elliott Abrams, then Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America, now oversees human rights and democracy issues for the National Security Council, a job he learned when he downplayed reports of military massacres in Central America during his stint at State.

• Then there’s Otto Reich, who ran a State Department office that a government investigation later found, “engaged in prohibited covert propaganda.”

He now holds Abrams’ old job, while John Negroponte, Reagan’s ambassador to Honduras and an old Iran/Contra hand, is now Ambassador to the United Nations.

Not to be left out is Bush the Elder, who despite denials that he wasn’t “in the loop” when Iran/Contra decisions were made, later wrote in his diary: “I’m one of the few people that know fully the details ... This is one operation that has been held very, very tight, and I hope it will not leak.”

He, too, went on to bigger and better things and in addition to making it big through his connection with Enron, is now a rather important advisor to a top-ranking member of the administration.

Duane Clarridge seems to be outside the “all is forgiven” loop, perhaps because he refused to plead guilty as did Abrams or, more likely, because his scheme to mine Nicaragua’s harbors earned a World Court ruling against the United States. But that shouldn’t matter – who cares what the court says, anyway?

So far, then, only three of the original Iran/Contra are available for work in the retread shop:

• Richard Secord, the wheeler-dealer general turned arms merchant who managed North’s secret operation supplying arms to the Contras.

• Retired General John Singlaub, who ran the World Anti-Communist League in the 1980s where he plotted with North to conduct an international money-raising scheme and, for all we know, is still in the business of overthrowing governments, especially those like the Chavez government of Venezuela.

• Robert McFarlane, Poindexter’s predecessor as National Security Advisor and co-author of the Iran deal and Contra policy in general.

If we were in the business of employment counseling we’d suggest they try to hook on with the COG, the secret “continuity of government” set up under the Continuity of Operations Plan that sees as many as 100 high-ranking government officials slaving away in two underground bunkers, waiting for the call to reconstitute the government following a “crippling terrorist attack.” After all, everyone has to work somewhere.

– Fred Gaboury, with an assist from the March 11 edition of The Nation.