Is Bush Afraid of Files on Reagan-Bush Terrorism?
President George W. Bush is seeking to prevent the planned release of some 68,000 pages of documents from the Reagan-Bush administration (1981-1989), documents which may well contain embarrassing information about the way in which the government funded, supported, and even created terrorist groups in Central America and elsewhere. He has issued an "executive order" to halt the release of the documents. The release is required by the Presidential Records Act passed by Congress.
Does this not take us back to the infamous "Iran-Contra scandal" in which the executive branch brazenly ignored a congressional action?
As is well known, some 200,000 to 300,000 persons, mostly of American race (American Indian ancestry), were murdered, tortured, and disappeared during the Reagan and George Bush I years. They were killed both by terrorist squads (such as the Contras and by paramilitary death squads) as well as by Guatemalan, Salvadoran, and Honduran regular army troops often led by officers trained at the notorious School of the Americas run by the US Department of Defense.
Native Americans comprise the vast majority of those murdered in the 80s and 90s.
The terrorism directed against Central American farmers, union organizers, workers, religious, and community leaders was funded by the United States, directly or indirectly. For example, the Contras were essentially created by the US and were used as the gunmen in an undeclared and illegal war against the government of Nicaragua.
The US Congress periodically voted funds for the war even though it was directly in violation of international law, since it is illegal for one country to attempt to overthrow the recognized government of another country. When Congress refused to fund the war, the Reagan-Bush administration continued to supply funding anyway under the notorious Iran-Contra fraud.
This was an act of rebellion against the Congress of the United States, one which still needs to be fully explained by the release of all relevant documents.
Interestingly, the Iran-Contra scandal involved Reagan and Bush Senior playing footsie with Iranian Muslim militants who had just held US personnel hostage for 444 days!
Now, in 2001, G. W. Bush has launched a "crusade" against terrorism but the question arises: does he only care about other country's actions and not about terrorism of US origin? Is he trying to protect the reputation of his father and of members of the latter's administration who have been made part of Bush II's administration?
The attempt by Bush II to block the release to the public of essential information raises another question: perhaps one of the reasons why Bush II had to be given the presidency in 2000 by a 5-4 Supreme Court decision was because of a widespread fear among Republicans that if Gore were elected he would allow the public to have access to incriminating records from the Reagan-Bush years.
Is there perhaps a fear that Nicaraguans and others will bring lawsuits or criminal actions against those responsible for the terrorism of the Reagan-Bush years, especially during the period in which it was partially disowned by Congress?
Native Americans in the USA know only too well that the withholding of government secrets can do immense damage. Indians are suffering from the hiding, or losing, of records in the Bureau of Indian Affairs; and. moneys owed to Native People and tribes may never be paid because of bureaucratic shenanigans, secrecy, and perhaps corruption. Now the general population faces the same type of issue from the Bush II administration.
Should we not insist that the crisis facing the United States and the rest of the world makes it more imperative than ever that government secrecy be reduced to a minimum?
The electorate, who are, after all, the voter-rulers of our society, need to be informed, not kept in the dark by bureaucrats and generals who are quite capable of doing literally awful things in our name, and to our own people as well as to other peoples. Haven't we heard enough about secret germ warfare and radiation experiments on our own troops and civilians to be distrustful of government operating in the dark?
If the Reagan-Bush administration violated international laws, committed terrorist acts, and caused drugs to be introduced into the country (among other foul deeds) don't we have a right to know the truth?. Is there anyone out there who can say that they don't want to know the truth?
We also have a right to demand that those government officials who authorized and/or carried out illegal acts be punished, since no statute of limitations can apply to international terrorism.
The hundreds of thousands of persons of Original American race of which I am speaking did not die in 1492 at the hands of Columbus. No, they died just a few years ago and their killers, by and large, are still free and alive today. Doesn't that demand action by our senators and congresspersons—or is doublespeak the game of the day?
If thousands of Afghans are to die in a campaign against terrorism, then do we not have the obligation of being absolutely forthright about our own practice of, or support of, terrorism? To suppress public documents now would seem to be the height of foolishness and almost an open admission of guilt.
This article was originally published in News From Indian Country late December 2001 issue.
© 2001 Jack Forbes, Powhatan-Delaware, is a historian, social critic, poet and writer. He can be contacted at his web site.
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