Bush appointeee Silberman has History of Scandal
The Guardian complains today about Bush appointing Laurence Silberman to head up the commission looking into intelligence failures regarding Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Since this commission has no subpoena powers and won’t report until 2005, it is anyway window dressing.
The Guardian story details Silberman’s role, when a court judge, in letting Oliver North off the hook for shredding the US constitution during Iran-contra. What it doesn’t say so clearly is that Silberman himself is widely thought to have played a role in kicking off Reagan’s warm relations with the Khomeini regime. It is alleged that Reagan sent Silberman in fall of 1980 to make sure the Iranians weren’t planning to give up the US hostages taken at the American embassy, thus creating an “October surprise” that would help reelect Jimmy Carter. Gary Sick wrote a book suggesting that Reagan’s people (i.e. Silberman) may actually have conspired with the Iranians to keep the hostages in Tehran for a few extra months to ensure a Republican victory. There were lots of possible quid pro quos, including Israeli provision to Khomeini of weapons and American spare parts for the war with Iraq.
Silberman was rewarded for his role in Iran with the judgeship that later allowed him to essentially pardon Ollie North for his role in Iran.
Viet Dinh used to clerk for Silberman, and is considered the principal author of the Patriot Act, which seeks to gut the US Bill of Rights.
The Guardian says, “Viet Dinh, a former clerk in Judge Silberman’s chambers, and former justice department official, came to his defence, telling the Chicago Tribune: “I think Judge Silberman is one of the most, if not the most, knowledgeable person on the federal bench about the intersection of law and national security.”