“It is now very clear that there were two separate agreements, one the official agreement with Carter in Algeria, the other, a secret agreement with another party, which, it is now apparent, was Reagan. They made a deal with Reagan that the hostages should not be released until after Reagan became president. So, then in return, Reagan would give them arms. We have published documents which show that US arms were shipped, via Israel, in March, about 2 months after Reagan became president.”
Former Iranian President Abolhassan Banisadr
On January 20 1980, 20 minutes after Reagan concluded his inaugural address, the Islamic Republic of Iran announced the release of the release of 52 Americans being held hostage in Iran since November 4 1979. Allegations that the Reagan administration negotiated a delay in the release of the hostages until after the 1980 presidential election have been numerous. Gary Sick, principal White House aide for Iran and the Persian Gulf on the Carter administration’s National Security Council, claimed in his book “October Surprise: America’s Hostages in Iran and the Election of Ronald Reagan” that CIA Director William Casey and possibly Vice President George H. W. Bush went to Paris to negotiate such a delay. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY
RELATED POST: Meet Trump’s new Iran Man: CIA Michael D’Andrea
The timing gave rise to an allegation that representatives of Reagan’s presidential campaign had conspired with Iran to delay the release until after the election to thwart President Carter from pulling off an “October surprise“.
According to the allegation, the Reagan Administration rewarded Iran for its participation in the plot by supplying Iran with weapons via Israel and by unblocking Iranian government monetary assets in US banks.
After twelve years of mixed media attention, both houses of the US Congress held separate inquiries and concluded that the allegations lacked supporting documentation.
Nevertheless, several individuals—most notably former Iranian President Abolhassan Banisadr, former naval intelligence officer and U.S. National Security Council member Gary Sick, and former Reagan/Bush campaign staffer and White House analyst Barbara Honegger—have stood by the allegation.
The US Senate’s 1992 report concluded that “by any standard, the credible evidence now known falls far short of supporting the allegation of an agreement between the Reagan campaign and Iran to delay the release of the hostages.”
The House of Representatives’ 1993 report concluded “there is no credible evidence supporting any attempt by the Reagan presidential campaign—or persons associated with the campaign—to delay the release of the American hostages in Iran”.
Gary Sick was unable to prove his claims, including that, in the days before the presidential election with daily press pools surrounding him and a public travel schedule, vice presidential candidate George H. W. Bush secretly left the country and met with Iranian officials in France to discuss the fate of the hostages.
In 1991, freelance writer Danny Casolaro (among others) claimed to be almost ready to expose the alleged October surprise conspiracy, when he suddenly died a violent death in a hotel bathtub in Martinsburg, WVA, raising suspicions. He appeared to be traveling on leads for his investigation into the Inslaw Affair. His death was ruled a suicide.
While working for Reagan, Barbara Honegger claims to have discovered information that made her believe that George H. W. Bush and William Casey had conspired to assure that Iran would not free the U.S. hostages until Jimmy Carter had been defeated in the 1980 presidential election, and she alleges that arms sales to Iran were a part of that bargain.
In 1987, in the context of the Iran-Contra investigations, Honegger was reported as saying that shortly after 22 October 1980, when Iran abruptly changed the terms of its deal with Carter, a member of the Reagan campaign told her “We don’t have to worry about an October surprise. Dick (referring to Richard V. Allen ) cut a deal.”
Iran Hostage Crisis: Release of 52 Hostages in 1981 (ABC News Report From 1/20/1981)
Iran hostage crisis — Wikipedia
On This Day — Tehran Frees US Hostages After 444 Days (January 20 1981)