Reagan allies sabotaged Carter with delayed US hostage release: Witness – Rolling Stone

Ben Barnes, a former Texas politician, claims to have witnessed a plot to sabotage the re-election of President Jimmy Carter in 1980 by delaying the release of American hostages in Iran. His astonishing confession was reported by The New York Times SATURDAY.

The hostage crisis in Iran marred Carter’s presidency and his re-election campaign, and, with the hostages still not released by Election Day 1980, the incumbent lost hard to Ronald Reagan. In the four decades since, many have argued that he would have done much better had he secured the release of the 52 Americans held captive.

But Barnes said The temperature that his mentor, former Texas Governor John B. Connally Jr., was determined not to let that happen – and helped prevent the hostages from being released. Barnes says that that summer, Connally took him to several Middle Eastern capitals to convince the respective regional leaders to tell Iran they would get a better deal from Republican candidate Ronald Reagan if they held the hostages. until after the elections. This is precisely what happened.

After they returned from the trip, Barnes said Connally briefed Reagan campaign chairman William J. Casey, who later became director of the Central Intelligence Agency. (Barnes’ account does not include any indication that Reagan knew of their trip.)

Known as the “October Surprise,” many suspected that someone close to Reagan’s camp was working against Carter’s efforts to free the hostages until after the election, but congressional investigations have not confirmed. these theories, and Connally was not the subject of these requests. Connally had sought the Republican nomination which Reagan eventually won. His help thwarting Carter’s campaign, Barnes said, helped him make the case to become secretary of state or defense with a new administration.

Barnes — who served as speaker of the Texas House of Representatives and lieutenant governor, and who also helped George W. Bush get into the Texas Air National Guard — said he wanted to set the record straight, given that Carter is in hospice care. “History should know what happened,” he said. “I think that’s so important and I guess knowing that the end is near for President Carter has pushed that on my mind more and more. I just feel like we have to bring it down one way or another.

While several of the players who could corroborate Barnes’ account have died – including Connally and Casey – Barnes has named four people he confided in about the meetings. All four – Mark K. Updegrove, president of the LBJ Foundation; Tom Johnson, a former collaborator of Lyndon Johnson (no relation) who later became the editor of the Los Angeles Times and president of CNN; Larry Temple, a former aide to Mr. Connally and Lyndon Johnson; and HW Brands, a University of Texas historian – confirmed with The temperature that Barnes had shared his story with them.

“As far as I know, Ben has never lied to me,” said Tom Johnson. Other evidence supporting his story is also available, including Brands writing three paragraphs about Barnes’ story in a 2015 biography of Reagan, though it didn’t receive much attention, and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum records show Connally departed on a trip from Houston on July 18, 1980 to visit Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel and returned on July 11 August – Barnes has been listed as joining him.

Barnes said The temperature he was certain that the motivation for the trip was to convey the message to Iran to hold the hostages until after the elections. “I will go to my grave believing that was the purpose of the trip,” Barnes said. “It wasn’t freelance because Casey was so interested in hearing as soon as we got back to the States.” Mr Casey, he added, wanted to know if “they were going to hold the hostages”.

Barnes could not confirm whether the messages to regional leaders actually reached Iran or had any influence. Iran held the hostages until after the elections. They were released shortly after noon on January 20, 1981, within the first minutes of Reagan’s presidency.


John B. Connally III, the former governor’s eldest son, disagreed with Barnes’ account, saying The temperature that he recalled that his father had made the trip to the Middle East, but that he was unaware of any messages in Iran, and that he had accompanied his father to a meeting with Reagan to discuss visit.

“No mention was made in any meeting I attended about a message being sent to the Iranians,” Connally said. “That doesn’t look like my dad.” He added: “I can’t dispute Ben’s memory of this, but it’s not consistent with my memory of the trip.”

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