Sunday, June 14, 2009

Iran Contra’s Dark Secret Revisited With Activist’s Death, Part One

On February 18, 2009, “Tear Down This Myth” author Will Bunch wrote in the Huffington Post that if Reagan’s Iran-Contra scandal had not been whitewashed, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney would not have been able to devise torture tactics, illegally wiretap Americans and politicize the Justice Department because they would have witnessed Reagan’s illegal activities meet with punishment. Because Reagan/Bush got away with it, Bush/Cheney, et al, became inspired and instructed on how to get away with it.

A little-known man died last month who may have been able to help bring Reagan and his soldiers, like Poindexter, North, Jesse Helms—yes, Helms—and others, to answer for their actions had he not been mercilessly pursued by the United States and North Carolina. His name was Eddie Hatcher. Many thought Eddie was simply a psychopathic outlaw. But the real story is far more complex.

In these days of terrorism, Eddie was the first person charged with Reagan’s anti-terrorist, hostage-taking statute enacted on October 12, 1984 after becoming world-infamous on February 1, 1988 for holding nineteen people hostage for ten hours at The Robesonian newspaper in Robeson County (Lumberton), North Carolina, an experience he later described to me as a “steady constant fear”. He and partner Timmy Jacobs had considered taking over the courthouse but realized they would be outnumbered and outgunned. But the story that Eddie found himself taking to the stage to play his part in began long before that day and it began long before Eddie was even aware there was a play.

Reagan’s anti-communist strategy in Central America was impeded by the Boland Amendment which prevented the U.S. Government from providing military support to the Contras and forced the Reagan Administration to develop ways to circumvent the Boland Amendment, and subvert the Constitution in the process. One of the ways money was reportedly raised for Bolivian and Argentine militaries in the late-70s-early-80s was through cocaine sales. In fact, the Bolivian coup on July 17, 1980 was called the “Cocaine Coup” and an early American supporter of these regimes was now-deceased, former North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms. Coincidentally or not, in 1985 cocaine began appearing in Robeson County in sufficient quantities to warrant a federal investigation headed by the man who was once Helms’ legislative aide and who Helms had asked Reagan to name as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Some considered the investigation as nothing more than damage control while cocaine was flown into Homestead Air Force Base near Miami, Florida and trucked up I-95 to Robeson County reportedly in burlap bags with blue seals that said “Republica de Colombia”. Soon, the sudden and large amounts of cocaine in North Carolina generated too much attention.

By 1986, drug dealers from Miami were going to Roberson County because cocaine there was so pure, cheap and plentiful. Helms must have liked the death and devastation in Central America because cocaine soon created in Robeson County the atmosphere of 1980s El Salvador complete with death squads under the guise of local law enforcement. Once a month or more for about two years small-time drug dealers were found floating face down in the Lumbee River, cocaine was stolen from the sheriff’s evidence locker, and the sheriff’s son, himself a deputy, killed an unarmed man who some believed knew too much. Also, on March 26, 1988, Julian Pierce, an Indian lawyer who was running for a judgeship against the local prosecutor (who was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as “the world’s deadliest prosecutor”), was killed execution-style by a man said to have confessed to the murder then killed himself. The prosecutor headed the investigation into Pierce’s assassination until someone told him it gave the appearance of a cover up since Pierce also just happened to be conducting his own investigation into Robeson County’s cocaine trade after Eddie and Timmy blew the story wide open.

But, back to 1986. When Helms sent former World Anti-Communist Leaguer Major General John Singlaub to meet with Contra leader Eden Pastora to determine what supplies his band of “freedom fighters” needed, Eddie was beginning his investigation as a reporter for the Tuscarora Lightbearers newspaper (Eddie was part-Tuscarora) when he was asked for help by a small-time drug dealer who feared he would be killed in the Robseon County jail. The following year, on July 17, 1987 (the seventh anniversary of Bolivia’s Cocaine Coup), during Ollie North’s testimony before the Iran-Contra hearings, a protestor broke in to the hearings to demand the committee ask about drugs, before Senator Daniel Inouye banged his gavel and the whole drugs-for-guns aspect of the Iran-Contra scandal never seemed to be heard from again. Around this time, Dick Cheney was positioning himself in the Iran-Contra hearings to subvert the process, along with now-deceased and former Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde, and to alert the White House about what to be prepared for.

Part Two tomorrow.