Moments in U.S. Diplomatic History

Iran-Contra: Who Knew What When?


In the Iran-Contra Affair, Colonel Oliver North and others within the National Security Council and CIA used back channels and secret bank accounts to funnel money from arms deals with Iran, which was then under an arms embargo, to the Contra rebels fighting the Marxist Sandinistas in Nicaragua. One aim of this plan was to circumvent Congress, which had prohibited the Reagan administration from providing more money to the Contras.  A secondary goal was to curry favor with the Iranians, who would in turn pressure Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia militia, to release American hostages it had taken throughout the 1980’s.

When the full extent of the illegal scheme was revealed and justified by President Reagan in a televised statement on November 13, 1986, the political fallout impacted not only Colonel North and his superiors, but also State Department personnel working in the Middle East who came under suspicion of facilitating the plot. John Kelly, at the time the Ambassador to Lebanon, experienced this fallout, being interviewed by the FBI and facing off against Secretary of State George P. Shultz.

In the following interview, Kelly describes his experience in the days and months after Iran-Contra Affair was revealed; he was interviewed by Thomas Stern beginning in December 1994.

To read more about President Reagan, hostage-taking, Iran or an alternate view of Oliver North and Iran-Contra, please follow the links.

“An NSC staffer request[ed] that I call a certain number in Germany to ask for a Mr. X, which was the cover name that Ollie North used”

Ambassador John Kelly, Ambassador, Embassy Beirut, 1986-1988

kelly2I didn’t know what was going on with Iran-Contra. I heard nothing about this operation from the time I arrived in Beirut in August, 1986 until late October of that year. One day, while hosting a Lebanese guest at lunch, I was interrupted by a secure telephone call from Washington — Admiral [John M.] Poindexter [Deputy National Security Adviser to President Reagan]. He told that me that progress was being made on the release of more hostages and that I would be hearing more about that from Ollie North.

Ollie was in Europe and would contact me to give me further instructions which I was to follow. That phone call was followed by written instructions which just repeated what Poindexter had told me orally. I was alerted that there would be more action to follow.

As I suggested before, most of my oral conversations with Poindexter and North were subsequently confirmed in writing; also the Situation Room in the White House kept logs on all telephone calls made from there. Both the confirming messages and the telephone logs were very helpful later when I was accused of all sorts of derelictions. I didn’t realize the full import of this record until I was about to be grilled by Congressional Committees investigating Iran/Contra.

Before appearing, the committee staff, just a couple of hours before a hearing, would show me what written material it had collected. That was very helpful because it clearly showed a paper trail that would support my position. I was amazed to find that it had the Situation Rooms were so complete that they not only recorded all telephone calls, but also included brief notations on the subject(s) discussed during the phone conversations.

Those logs not only supported my recollections of events, but also Poindexter’s avowals that the Department had been kept informed about the Iran/Contra operations. I mentioned this to the Secretary during one of our bitter exchanges later on. His defense was that if the Department had been in fact been kept up to date, no one had told him–which I don’t believe!

I believe that the logs were accurate since they were kept by a clerical staff that had no axe to grind. I was satisfied that the logs were accurate and truthful. A couple of hours later, I received a call from an NSC staffer, requesting that I call a certain number in Germany to ask for a Mr. X, which was the cover name that Ollie North used–I immediately recognized the voice. He told me that he was on his way and would be in Beirut that evening. So North and General Secord arrived by helicopter that evening.

1727-004-10154F82… I had a long session with the Secretary before I left for Beirut; he then went off on vacation. I met [National Security Adviser Robert “Bud”] McFarlane a few days later when I was briefed on the NSC Iran-hostage operations. Later, Shultz mentioned to me and others that I should have immediately contacted him after my McFarlane briefing, even though he was out in California and did not return until after my departure.

In truth, it never occurred to me to contact the Secretary because McFarlane had assured me that Shultz was fully aware of the Iran operation. I had no reason to doubt Bud on that score. Bud did tell me that Shultz was in disagreement with the NSC operations, which I took as further indication that Shultz was fully familiar with what was going on.

So I did not try to contact Shultz in California because I believed what McFarlane had told me. In late October or early November, Jacobsen was released as result of the North’s dealings with the Iranians.

“A rather obscure Lebanese weekly–Ashirak–published a long story about McFarlane’s visits to Iran, the negotiations on the hostage release, the sale of weapons to Iran”

North and [Anglican Church Envoy Terence] Waite were seen publicly in Cyprus boarding our helicopter to go to Beirut. At about the same time, a rather obscure Lebanese weekly–Ashirak–published a long story about McFarlane’s visits to Iran, the negotiations on the hostage release, the sale of weapons to Iran, etc.

Some of my Embassy staff members saw the story and when showing to me opined that it was the usual Lebanese flight of fancy, although they thought this was even loonier than most.

I asked them to translate the article and send it to Washington. I sensed that there may have been some truth in the story. Of course, the wire press picked up the story and that was the unraveling of Iran-Contra operation.

A few weeks later, I received a cable which had been sent to many embassies, requesting any information that a post might have had about Iran-Contra — contacts with certain individuals, movements of certain individuals, etc. The message requested a full and immediate report on any information that a post might have on Iran-Contra.

So I sent in a report that I did indeed have conversations in Beirut with North and [Major General Richard Vernon] Secord (seen left) — that message is part of the public record. I believe that I sent the cable on a Thursday.

On Saturday night, I got a call at home from Arnie Raphel, then the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in NEA. He said that I would have to fly to Washington as soon as possible because the Secretary was really upset about the whole NSC operation. I asked Arnie how much trouble I was in–we had been close friends for many years. He told me that Shultz was very mad and that I was in lots of “hot water”.

I was scheduled to go to London the next day for a Chiefs of Mission conference to be chaired by Dick Murphy, the Assistant Secretary for NEA. So I went to London, met with Murphy Monday morning and then immediately left for Washington. Murphy didn’t tell me much at all — he and I had never been particularly close.  Arnie had been much more forthcoming.

“When I landed at Dulles, I was met by a giant horde of media representatives”

While I was flying back, Shultz was testifying.  He said that he had been shocked when he found out about North and his activities. He said that his Ambassador in Beirut–John Kelly–had been carrying on a secret correspondence with Poindexter and North, unbeknownst to him and that Kelly had seen North and Secord and had never reported any of these activities to the Department, much less him.

When I landed at Dulles, I was met by a giant horde of media representatives — TV, radio, print media. I knew nothing about what Shultz had said and that he had lambasted me for my activities and lack of reporting. So I was completely taken by surprise by the media attention and by the questions that were being asked of me. Arnie had warned me that I was in some trouble, but the depth of it didn’t strike me until my arrival at Dulles.

In any case, I thought I had a very good defense and rationale for everything that I did and did not do. So I told the press that I had been working under the instructions of the President’s National Security Advisor. I did not have copies of any of messages I had received because in Beirut we destroyed almost everything as soon as we could for security reasons.

But I knew and said that all the cables would be on file at the CIA, which was the transmitting agency, and at the NSC. Those cables would support my assertions, which indeed, once located, they did.

Shultz (seen right) left right after his testimony, for Europe. I went to my brother’s house and watched all the news on TV; the next day I was the lead story in the Washington Post and The New York Times. The stories were not very complimentary.

That evening, I was called by the Department and told to be in Mike Armacost’s office at 7:30 a.m. the next morning. Mike was then the Under Secretary for Political Affairs. Nick Platt, the Executive Secretary, joined us in Mike’s office.

They told me that I was subject to dismissal for cause, both from my ambassadorship and the Foreign Service. I was told that the FBI would be interviewing me, as well as by some Departmental lawyers.

I was instructed to cooperate fully with all official investigations and told to go see Abraham Sofaer, the Department’s Legal Advisor. That I did and was strongly advised that I should retain legal counsel to defend myself. I took the position that I hadn’t done anything wrong and therefore didn’t see the need for counsel, nor did I have the financial resources to do so. He said that he could not advise me because he was the Secretary’s lawyer and therefore a party to the dispute. I did not obtain counsel.

I was interviewed by the FBI, which tape recorded my statements. They started by reading my Miranda Rights: that is, that I could remain silent, but if I said anything, it might be held against me in a court of law or other legal proceedings.

In fact, the government was beginning a criminal investigation for a)”illegal diversion of funds” on the grounds that I may have been involved in the diversion of funds to the Nicaraguan Contras; b) violation of the Arms Export Control Act for being involved in the legal shipment of arms to Iran; etc.

My case had gone far beyond the accusation of failing to keep the Department advised about my relationships with Poindexter and North; I was being investigated as a co-conspirator along with North and Secord, etc.

When Arnie told me I was in trouble, I had no idea how big a book was about to be thrown at me. In fact, it was only the FBI that gave me an idea of the extent of the difficulties I was facing. They asked me lots and lots of questions about my activities in Lebanon–who I had met, what I had done there, about my alleged participation in Iran-Contra, etc.

“They said that they thought I was being ‘hung out to dry’”

I was thoroughly drained after the FBI interview. I must say that the two agents that interviewed me and did so again the next day, were very thorough and very courteous. I did feel that I was being given fair interviews. In fact, at the end, they said that they thought I was being “hung out to dry” — a comment which undoubtedly they should not have made, but with which I fully sympathized.

In the afternoon, Nick Platt instructed me to write a memorandum to him in which I was to cover everything that I knew about Iran-Contra — my meetings with McFarlane, Poindexter, North etc, the instructions I had received, both orally and in writing. I did that, entirely from memory because I had no documentation with me and the Department did not have either.

NEA gave me a secretary and I dictated to her for a couple of hours. I put together my best recollections. By this time, I believe all the documentation had been brought together, even though North had tried to destroy much of it. The written material had been assembled from CIA and other sources, but I still had not had an opportunity to review it.

That evening, I talked to some friends at my brother’s house. When they heard about my FBI interview, they all agreed that I needed a lawyer, even though I was still resisting since I felt that I had done nothing wrong. The next day, I continued to work on my memorandum to Platt, talked some more to the FBI and had a meeting with John Whitehead, the Deputy Secretary.

I had also had gotten to know him when I was a DAS in EUR. I told Whitehead that I was very distraught; I believed that I was an innocent bystander in a large drama and that I was being unfairly accused of all sorts of misdeeds, which indeed I had not committed. I felt that I was being treated unfairly and that the threats to dismiss for cause were entirely without merit and could not be substantiated.

Whitehead thought that I was being wronged by Shultz and promised to do his best to get a public vindication and apology from the Secretary. He put at least part of that commitment in a note to me that I still have. That was a very positive gesture and I felt much better after my conversation with the Deputy Secretary.

I must say that this period was a very emotional for me; there were many of my Foreign Service colleagues who treated me like a leper. That added to my disappointment. On the other hand, George Vest, the Director General of the Foreign Service, took me out for lunch; he said that there wasn’t much more he could for me, but I was grateful for the gesture. I suggested that meet at noon; he countered with a later time when the press would be eating after their daily noon briefing. He wanted to see the press that he was having lunch with John Kelly.

“[Secretary Shultz] obviously was very angry with me — red faced”

George, having been the Department’s spokesman, understood the press mentality; so we had a late lunch. Sure enough, that evening on the TV news, Marvin Kalb reported that there was a division in the Department about John Kelly, that the Director General had taken me to lunch and that there were many people in the Department who felt that I was being treated unfairly. I am sure that those reports did not sit well with Shultz. That afternoon, I spent a lot of time on the phone with Congressional staffers and many others. Everybody was advising me hire a lawyer.

So finally I agreed to talk to some lawyers. There had been three law firms that had been repeatedly suggested to me. By sheer chance, I started with Myer, Brown and Platt — a big firm headquartered in the Middle West. I met Andy Fry and three of his colleagues; I had never met of them before.

They were very kind and gentle. They listened to me and we had a four hour meeting. They agreed to defend me pro bono — I did not have enough money to pay them. For the next several days, I answered questions from them and others, but eventually, the memorandum that I had written to Platt became the basic document which answered many of the questions posed.

My attorneys were upset that the FBI had questioned me without counsel, but I told them that I had made the choice to see the agents without a lawyer because I felt that I had nothing incriminating or improper. They were also shocked that none of the written documentation had been made available to me. They also felt that Platt’s request for a memorandum was improper and that if necessary they would seek to squelch it if anybody wished to use it as evidence. I think they were horrified by the process the Department and the FBI had used.

By the third or fourth day of that week, my case began to appear as a regular feature of newspaper columnists, most of whom condemned the Iran-Contra operation and tarred me with it at the same time.

Shultz returned from Europe at the end of that week. I met with him on Monday of my second week in Washington, along with Charlie Hill, his personal assistant who was the note-taker (those notes were subsequently provided to the special Iran-Contra counsel, Mr. [Lawrence E.] Walsh.

Shultz told me that he had not had an opportunity to read my memorandum to Platt or any of the message traffic that I referred to substantiate my case as an innocent victim. He said that he would read the material, but wanted me to know that he was very disappointed with me; he could not understand why I had failed to inform him of the North and Poindexter operations.

He obviously was very angry with me–red faced. I told him that I had not sent him any messages because I was under the clear impression that he had been thoroughly briefed and kept current. He denied knowing about what went on. He had admitted under oath that he and Weinberger had been at meetings when the arms-for-Iran-for-hostages deal had been discussed and that he had opposed the plan all along.

In January 1986, the President had signed a “finding” which authorized at least a part of the Iran-Contra deal involving the sale of some arms to Iran. In May 1986, Ambassador Charlie Price had called him from London to say that there was a negotiation underway; that came as a surprise to Shultz because he thought that the whole operation had been brought to a halt.

This call was received by Shultz in Tokyo where he was attending an Economic Summit. He then, according to his testimony, confronted Poindexter, who told him that there was no truth to the Price report and that there was nothing going on. According to Shultz’ testimony and memoirs, he did not know anything that anything was going on from May to November, when the whole operation was exposed.

“ I pointed out that there was at least one cable from Poindexter that explicitly said that the Secretary of State had been fully briefed”

So Shultz was upset that I had not reported my August briefing from McFarlane, that I had not reported about the cables that I had received from Poindexter and that I had not reported the North visits to Beirut. He thought all of these serious delinquencies showed a great lack of judgement. I told him that, as I had said to everyone else, that I was under the impression–and had in fact been told–that he knew about the operation. In fact, I pointed out that there was at least one cable from Poindexter that explicitly said that the Secretary of State had been fully briefed. Shultz said that that had been a plain lie; he knew nothing about what was going on.

By this time, I had found out that in June, Oakley had sent Shultz a memorandum giving a full description of North’s activities and recommending that the Secretary intervene and bring the North operation to an end. I mentioned that to the Secretary. It became obvious that my comment made Shultz even angrier because he perceived that I was pointing out that he did know–or should have. He claimed that he had never seen that memorandum and that someone must have stopped it short of his desk.

During this meeting with Shultz also mentioned that, after Jacobsen was released, that I had sent a “Flash” message to the Department noting that he had been released and that I wanted instructions what to do with him. He denied ever seeing that telegram as well.

I later heard from a number of people that my cable had been suppressed–all copies were recalled and destroyed. Then Shultz asked me whether there were any other things that I had “neglected to tell him about.” I asked him whether he knew of the military contingency plan for a forceful rescue of the hostages. He denied knowing anything about that as well.

I told him that I had seen a Top Secret memorandum describing the option which clearly showed that he had read it in January, 1986; it had his initials on it and it, as well as marginal notes that he written. He continued to deny any knowledge of the contingency plan or the memorandum to which I referred.

I should note that by the time I had the meeting with Shultz, two of our ambassadors in the field had sent in cables defending me. I had seen those. One was from Richard Boehm in Cyprus. He had been the host for all the comings and goings — North and Waite. He pointed out that he also knew that North was traveling to and from Beirut and that some of these trips had been recorded by American TV.

So he as well as I could assume that North’s travels were well known to the Department; Boehm felt that I was being wrongly accused of holding information. Richard Burt, then in Bonn, also sent a supportive telegram, stating that Oakley, during a visit to Germany in October, had briefed him in full detail about the North operation much of which was taking place in Germany as North and the Iranians negotiated their deal there.

Burt thought that I was being charged unfairly because Robert Oakley was fully aware of what was going on. He added that many people knew of North’s efforts; it was a subject for discussion among many people. I mentioned these cables to Shultz; he again reacted very angrily and concluded the meeting saying that he would study the record; in the meantime, I was to stay in Washington.

“Mr. Secretary, if you release this statement, I will go public and bring you down”

Two days later–Wednesday–about noon, I was called to the Secretary’s office. I met with Shultz and Hill again. The Secretary looked very angry. He looked at me and said that he had just come from a meeting with the President and the Vice-President, in which he had sought to have me dismissed from my post as American Ambassador to Lebanon. But the President had refused and had in fact said that I had conducted myself valiantly.

Therefore, the Secretary was ordering me back to my post, but that I would be admonished for “errors in judgment.” I subsequently discovered that “admonishment” is an oral reprimand. Then the Secretary handed to me a statement which he said the Department’s spokesperson, Charles Redmond, would be reading at the Department’s daily press briefing, which was by then almost to begin.

I read the statement; it said that I was being admonished for “errors in judgment” but that I was returning to Beirut. There was other defamatory verbiage in the statement that I found unacceptable and said so because I thought it would ruin my reputation.

Shultz said that I had no choice and that the statement would be issued as written. I finally said: “Mr. Secretary, if you release this statement, I will go public and bring you down.” Shultz told me to get out!

As I was leaving, I said that I would take that statement to my lawyers. That brought an expression of surprise from Shultz. I told Shultz that I had employed legal counsel and that I would give them his statement for legal consideration. The Secretary exclaimed: “You have lawyers! That proves it!” He was in a rage.

So I left his office and went with Hill to his small office right next to the Secretary’s suite. I repeated to Charlie what I had said to the Secretary, namely that I considered the statement as defamatory and that I would then try to bring the Secretary down. I said that I had enough documentary evidence to prove my case and to show that Shultz was disassembling.

Charlie tried to calm me down, but I was not only upset, but also deadly serious. There was no doubt in my mind that if that statement were released, that I would try to drive Shultz out of office.

Up to that point, I had not talked to any reporter despite repeated invitations. I had been advised not to talk to the press and had stuck to that religiously. But after my meeting with Shultz, I was prepared to take the offensive and provide the media all the information that I had at hand. I was sure that I could have gotten on national television in light of the stir that Iran-Contra and all of its sub-plots were making.

“My conclusions were that the Secretary correctly opposed North’s lunatic scheme”

I think I could have made a major stink about George Shultz. As I have said, available documentation clearly supported my version of events; Shultz’ credibility about not knowing could have been seriously damaged. Charlie suggested that I return to my office and just sit for a few minutes.

In five minutes, Charlie called and said that the statement would not be released that day; they would work on another draft. I immediately went to my lawyers and reported on what had transpired. We talked for a couple of hours and changed the text of the statement to make it acceptable. The rewritten statement said that I had been admonished; that had happened and I was not going to try to change that.

We did delete the defamatory garbage and I took the cleaned text back to Hill. He called me the next morning and told me that Redmond would be reading the statement as we had rewritten it. I still have copies of both statements; after my experiences of those days, I have kept copies of all correspondence pertaining to my activities.

For those who wish to read more about this meeting with Shultz can find an accurate description of it in his memoirs, written seven years after the events. He wrote that I had uttered a threat against him, which is an indication that he is still upset by that meeting and the preceding events. He was not very complimentary. My conclusions were that the Secretary correctly opposed North’s lunatic scheme, but that when the President approved it and the operation continued, he did not wish to carry his opposition any further because that might have meant that he probably would have had to resign. So he chose to pretend that he was an unknowing bystander.

I think Shultz was in many ways a wonderful Secretary of State, but in the case of Iran-Contra, he did not cover himself with glory. He had indisputably seen the January briefing memorandum–his written noted covered it. It is quite possible that he had forgotten that had read that documented–after all a Secretary sees thousands of documents.

It could also have been true that he did not see the June memorandum from Oakley. Some people have told me that he had read it, but I have no firsthand knowledge of that. But to deny any knowledge of the Iran-Contra plan and operation was totally disingenuous. He was just saving his own skin.

He did not carry his disagreement to the logical conclusion because he understood that the President was determined to get the hostages out in any way he could and that the only choices that Shultz had was to resign or to play the game that he did. I think I became a convenient scape-goat which allowed him to deny knowledge of the North operation because “his Ambassador in Beirut had neglected to keep him informed.”

“The North plan was just stupid. It led to the kidnapping of more Americans. It was a complete and abject failure”

About six months after these events, I was caught in some heavy shelling in Beirut. My house came under the fire of big guns. Shultz called me and asked whether I was alright and if there was any help that he could provide. I was touched by that call and I believe it was his way to begin making amends.

What I didn’t know was that he was about to appear before a Congressional Committee. His opening remarks began with a description of his call to me and our conversation. So I revised my opinion and now feel that Shultz called me just so that he could tell the Committee that he had just spoken to me.

I should add that Charlie Hill (seen left), who was one of Shultz’ close confidants and who would have known more than anyone what the Secretary might have seen, has never discussed these events. He of course had a confidential relationship with the Secretary which I respected; I was not going to do anything that would strain that by asking Hill a lot of questions.

In 1988, about eighteen months after my run in with Shultz, I was ambushed in Beirut. Shultz and Hill happened to be in Cairo at the time. When they heard about the ambush, Hill called me and asked me to come to Cairo to see the Secretary. He told me that Shultz wanted to show support for me and thank me for all that I had gone through in Beirut.

So I flew to Cairo, stayed for twenty-four hours and never saw the Secretary. But on his way to the airport, Shultz did talk to me for a minute in front of the press. It was a cameo appearance. He did then talk to me privately about Lebanon. I also saw him a couple of times when I returned for consultations although it was obvious that neither of us were very comfortable with the other.

The North plan was just stupid. It led to the kidnapping of more Americans. It was a complete and abject failure, causing a lot of embarrassment to the administration and the US. Fortunately, I escaped unscathed, but it was a very close call. As a lot of journalists noted, that my reward for having been “saved” was to send me back to Beirut in harm’s way.

For the remainder of my tour, my staff and I worked very diligently in trying to obtain the hostages’ release. I met often with the families of the hostages, some of whom resided in Beirut. The others I would see whenever I returned to the US.

These meetings were often difficult and emotional, for obvious and understandable reasons. “Terry” Waite became a hostage himself. I had warned him not to come to Lebanon because we had heard that the Hezbollah was mad at him; they thought that Waite had tricked them while pursuing his own agenda. The word on the street was that Waite would be kidnapped if he returned.

But I believe that Waite (seen right) ignored our warnings because he was trying to redeem his reputation; some were saying that Terry had become North’s pawn. So he returned to Beirut on his own and was indeed taken hostage. That was very unfortunate, but Waite had a big ego. He had hoped–and talked about to me–to be nominated for the Nobel peace Prize; in fact, he asked me to submit a letter of recommendation.

So he did have a personal agenda which ended in a unfortunate and unnecessary period of captivity. The record however must show that Terry Waite did accomplish some good. He was an imperfect human being as are we all, but his accomplishments should not be diminished by aspects of his behavior.

“Hezbollah wanted money and it wanted to humiliate the U.S.”

The Iran-Contra operation had a noticeable effect on my dialogues in Beirut. The Lebanese have an unfortunate tendency to see the world in distorted ways. They clearly believed that I was the most powerful ambassador in the US diplomatic corps because even the Secretary of State couldn’t fire me.

Unfortunately, my encounters with the Secretary enhanced my reputation in Beirut. Some “yellow” newspaper wrote that I been assigned responsibility not only for Lebanon, but for the whole Middle East. The story said that [Ambassador Thomas R.]Tom Pickering in Tel Aviv reported to me. It was pure fabrication, of course, but it was illustrative of the misperception that the Lebanese held about the world.

But despite my alleged new powers, I could not affect the release of the hostages; I wished I could have. I think that my efforts had in essence no effect. We might have had an effect if we had tried to forcibly rescue them.

In 1988, I thought we could mount an armed rescue operation which would have had a high chance of success; that is, we might have gotten three or four of them out alive–out of about a dozen. Those were the ones which we thought we knew where they were being held.

We did not in 1988 believe that any of the hostages would be killed, even though we did not know for sure where they were located. I did not believe that the hostages would be killed even in retaliation for some American rescue mission. None of them were in fact ever intentionally killed, except Peter Kilburn, after the bombing raid in Libya.

We worked, as I suggested earlier, on the theory that live hostages were worth something; dead ones were not. Peter was killed because Qadhafi had “bought” him so that he could take his revenge out on some American. The hostage issue had to be viewed as a commercial enterprise with religious and political overtones. Hezbollah wanted money and it wanted to humiliate the U.S.

At times, they proposed prisoner exchanges; e.g., for their “brothers” in Kuwait prisons who had blown up the American and French embassies there or the prisoners held by the Israelis in southern Lebanon. At times, they also demanded Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon.

So Hezbollah had political demands that it would surface from time to time. When, [American University of Beirut hospital administrator David] Jacobsen was released, he was given a set of demands which he was to convey to the American government. I think that had we met those demands, we might have gotten a few hostages released, but certainly not all, and we might well have encouraged the taking of others. I do not believe that one should give in to terrorists or kidnappers. It only encourages further despicable behavior.

Permalink

Return to Moments in U.S. Diplomatic History

Iran-Contra: Who Knew What Whe…

by Admin CoolBen time to read: 24 min
0