By Margie Burns
May 27, 2009, 00:21
The first time Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld pressured the CIA to mislead Congress was in 1975 and 1976, when Cheney was chief of staff to President Gerald Ford and Rumsfeld was Ford’s secretary of defense.
Cheney, having held a series of positions alongside Rumsfeld — starting under him in the Nixon administration — also became campaign manager for Ford’s reelection campaign. George H. W. Bush was head of the CIA, appointed by Jerry Ford when Ford switched Rumsfeld from White House chief of staff to secretary of defense.*
The mission of the three men was to protect the Ford presidency and some elements in the CIA from the Church Committee. According to researcher Lamar Waldron, they succeeded.
Waldron is co-author, with Thomas Hartmann, of Legacy of Secrecy: The Long Shadow of the JFK Assassination, an exhaustively documented 800 pages compiling more than three decades of research into the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy. In two recent interviews of more than an hour each, Waldron discussed how much some things haven’t changed since before Watergate.
Reacting to public outrage over a series of abuses -- including domestic surveillance -- exposed during Watergate, the Nixon impeachment and the winding down of the Vietnam War, in 1975 Congress authorized a special senate committee chaired by Democrat Frank Church of Idaho to look into abuses of the intelligence agencies, primarily the CIA and FBI. The Church Committee was convened, getting off to a slow start and under steady CIA-friendly media fire from the beginning; Ford appointed George H. W. Bush as head of the CIA and Donald Rumsfeld as secretary of defense in October 1975.
As Waldron points out, we now know from thousands of documents declassified since the 1970s that a massive amount of vital information was withheld by Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush from the Senate’s Church Committee. The White House and top echelon of the CIA withheld from the committee information about the CIA’s manipulation of the news media; domestic spying; and material about Cuba, including JFK’s plan to topple Fidel Castro on December 1, 1963, the Mafia’s infiltration of the anti-Castro plan, and the CIA’s unauthorized continuation of agency plotting to use the Mafia to assassinate Castro. Waldron and Hartmann document in Legacy of Secrecy that then-CIA official Richard Helms withheld the unauthorized extension of the mob-linked anti-Castro plots from JFK himself, and from President Lyndon Johnson and from the Warren Commission afterward -- and even from JFK’s own CIA Director. ...