Barbara Honegger, The October Surprise & The LaRouchites

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In many way the LaRouche organization, with its slickly repackaged conspiracy theories, serves as a nexus for a number of tendencies on the political right, ranging from ultra-conservatives to outright fascists and white supremacists. LaRouchian material on AIDS, for instance, is cited by homophobic organizations such as the fundamentalist Christian group Summit Ministries. It seems clear that the LaRouche network reaches out to many constituencies, including some that seem improbable on the surface, including some on the left.

Over the past few years the LaRouchites have solicited contacts with a number of critics of U.S. foreign policy and intelligence agency practices, sometimes with surprising success. In many cases, it is the LaRouchian intelligence network that serves as a broker for information flowing between left-wing and right-wing groups. LaRouchians appear to have first penetrated the left in recent years when they began to trade information on covert action and CIA misconduct. The LaRouchians were early critics of the Oliver North network. In the early 1980's, LaRouche intelligence operatives such as Jeffrey Steinberg maintained close ties to a faction in the National Security Council which opposed Oliver North's activities. At the same time the LaRouchians quietly began providing information to mainstream and progressive reporters and researchers.

The Christic Institute and the Empowerment Project which distributes the film "CoverUp: Behind the Iran-Contra Affair" are major promoters of Barbara Honegger's theories regarding an alleged "October Surprise." The October Surprise was the term used among Reagan campaign aides to describe the possibility that the Iranian government might arrange for the release of U.S. hostages prior to the election which pitted incumbent Jimmy Carter against challenger Ronald Reagan. Honegger, a former White House aide, alleges in her book October Surprise that officials connected to the Reagan Presidential campaign plotted with Iranian officials to delay the release of hostages in the Middle East until after the election. Substantial circumstantial evidence exists to suggest such a charge might be true, but there is little incontrovertible proof.

Honegger's research and analysis are questionable. In the 1989 edition of her book October Surprise, Honegger cites frequently to LaRouchian publications. While some LaRouchian material is factual, other material presented as fact is unsubstantiated rumor or lunatic conspiracy theories. Some anti-fascist researchers also assume that information in EIR occasionally represents calculated leaks by current and former government intelligence agents and right-wing activists to achieve a desired political goal. This practice is a common tactic in power struggles and faction fights over policy.

While Honegger sometimes cites to progressive periodicals such as In These Times and The Nation,, more than six percent (49 out of a total 771) of the footnotes in Honegger's book cite LaRouchian publications such as EIR, New Solidarity, and New Federalist. In one chapter on "Project Diplomacy," Honegger LaRouchian cites account for over 22 percent of the total number of footnotes.

Honegger also makes assertions that strain credulity. She quotes without comment the claim of Eugene Wheaton that the CIA is actually secretly controlled by a group of retired members of the OSS.

In the July/August 1991 issue of The Humanist, both David MacMichael and Barbara Trent of the Empowerment project defend Honegger and suggest PBS refused to show "Coverup" because it contained serious charges against the U.S. government. As Trent put it:

It was no big surprise that there was a problem getting `Coverup' on PBS. Programs that address U.S. foreign policy in particular and are not in agreement with the policies of the sitting president rarely get much of a chance on TV.

In fact, PBS has aired on the "Frontline" series programs about the October Surprise and CIA involvement in drug trafficking. PBS has also aired two Bill Moyers specials on Iran-Contragate that concluded that Reagan lied repeatedly and may have committed impeachable offenses, and that evidence exists to suggest that Bush's role in the Contra resupply operation was far more direct than he has admitted. The primary difference between the shows broadcast by PBS and "Coverup" is the reliance in "Coverup" on Barbara Honegger and Danny Sheehan and their unsubstantiated and undocumented charges. It would have been difficult for PBS to justify running Honegger's assertions given her reliance on material supplied by neo-Nazis with a history of circulating unreliable information.

" Coverup" also promotes the Christic theme that Iran-Contragate was caused by a long-standing conspiracy of individual agents. In contrast to this individualistic formulation, the Moyers programs stress a systemic failure: that the lack of congressional oversight over foreign policy and covert action has created a Constitutional crisis where the balance of powers between branches of government has been skewed toward the executive branch.

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