March 28, 2006

Caspar Weinberger, R.I.P.

Former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger died today. He was Reagan's first SecDef and served well into Reagan's second term. Weinberger was the architect of of the Reagan military buildup and helped bring about the fall of the Soviet Union. History will be kind to him.

Posted by LMC at March 28, 2006 09:42 PM | TrackBack

History will be kind to him.

Not so sure. He was also pardoned GHW Bush for his treasonous role in Iran-Contra. Lucky he had powerful friends.

Posted by: LB buddy at March 29, 2006 10:13 AM

LB Buddy, you need to look up the definition of "treason" before making that kind of comment. As for the indictment of Weinberger, he was indicted in June 1992 for obstruction, perjury, and false statements. The obstruction count was dismissed in September, and Walsh brought a superceding indictment days before the 1992 presidential election, part of which was dismissed by the court six weeks later. Pretrial dismissal of charges is unusual and typically reflects fatal flaws in the prosecution's case, more than just sloppy lawyering. Bush 41's pardon of Weinberger was an appropriate response to an out of control Independent Counsel.

Posted by: LMC at March 29, 2006 10:26 AM

LMC's account matches with what Bob Woodward, no pal of the Republicans, had to say about the incident in Shadow. Incidentally, Lawrence Walsh's indictment knocked Bush 41 from a narrow lead over Clinton on Friday to five points behind the day before the election. It's hard to believe a responsible special prosecutor would have behaved like that.

Posted by: utron at March 29, 2006 10:45 AM

If I remember Colin Powell's account of Iran-Contra correctly (from Powell's autobiography), I think he was of the opinion that Weinberger was against Iran-Contra from the beginning, which was partly why it was run from the NSC.

I may be wrong; it's been about six or seven years since I read Powell's book.

Posted by: The Colossus at March 29, 2006 02:55 PM

First let me say that I really am not trying to be antagonistic around here, I just see things different from you all (honest).
Here is how the DOD describes it:

Weinberger and his counterpart, Secretary of State Shultz, had opposed providing military equipment to Iran. Weinberger, according to his own account, did not know that proceeds from the Iranian arms sales were going to the Contras. He played an unwilling role in the arms transfer to Iran by agreeing to a sale by DoD to the CIA of 4,000 TOW missiles, which the CIA transferred to Iran through Israel. Weinberger later stated that at the time he had warned the administration that the direct transfer of arms from DoD to Iran would be a violation of the Arms Control Export Act. Some years after, in spite of the extenuating circumstances, Weinberger was indicted on the recommendation of a special counsel for the Iran/Contra affair. President George Bush pardoned him in December 1992.
Assuming this is the best face the DOD can put on it, this would make him a reluctant law breaker. But the emphasis would still be on law breaker. I typically believe that the reality is rarely as favorable as the official story for an individual. Posted by: LB Buddy at March 29, 2006 05:03 PM

LB Buddy, treason is providing aid and comfort to enemies of the United States in time of war. Iran-Contra does not meet that definition so we can end any discussion of what you characterized as "treasonous conduct". As for DOD's account, I would say it is a little too sparse to give Capar Weinberger's role in Iran Contra justice. Weinberger was indicted on spurious charges of perjury and obstruction, not on selling TOWs to Iran. Weinberger cooperated with Walsh's investigation but drew the line when Walsh demanded that he provide testimony that Weinberger insisted would be false. Walsh responded with felony indictments which in several instances failed to meet the legal standard for the crimes they alleged. If anything, Walsh's actions point out the power a prosecutor wields in a criminal case by virtue of his ability to determine what crimes will be alleged against a defendant and the need to have good people at the top of their game as prosecutors. A prosecutor can threaten a target with felony charges and long prison terms if they do not provide "full cooperation" and "cooperation" is often deemed incomplete if a target's account varies with the government's version of events. Weinberger was fortunate enough to have considerable personal resources to fund an expensive but successful defense of his case, the cost of which would be out of reach for all but the most wealthy defendant.

Posted by: LMC at March 30, 2006 10:04 AM

LB Buddy, treason is providing aid and comfort to enemies of the United States in time of war. Iran-Contra does not meet that definition so we can end any discussion of what you characterized as "treasonous conduct".

Wait a minute... are you trying to tell me that words have meanings?

Whoa. OK, that's gonna take some time to get used to.

Posted by: Brian B at March 30, 2006 10:15 AM

I withdraw the treason assertion. I had not realized it applied only during times of war. My bad.
As I am sure you know better than I do, a successful defense does not mean the defendant is innocent, nor does insisting you are innocent mean you are innocent. It shocks no one to state that politicians lie.

Posted by: LB Buddy at March 30, 2006 10:36 AM

LB Buddy, nor should it shock anyone that prosecutors are not always good and virtuous and that some prosecutors have an agenda beyond disinterested enforcement of the criminal law. The timing of Lawrence Walsh's superceding indictment on October 30, 1992, proved to me he was out to get George H. W. Bush, an impression strengthened by Elliot Abrams' subsequent account of his debriefings with Walsh's team. An out of control prosecutor is infinitely more dangerous that a defendant who walks. Measuring Caspar Weinberger's long record of distinguished service against politically timed flimsy indictments which fail to meet the generous deference given by the courts leads me to give the benefit of any doubt to the former defense secretary.

Posted by: LMC at March 30, 2006 10:58 AM