Magazine article The Nation

Ollie's Gang

Magazine article The Nation

Ollie's Gang

Article excerpt

Tact about some of the uglier aspects of U.S. foreign policy is becoming the norm in many newspapers, not to mention on the networks. Lamentable though the performance of the Iran/contra committees has been, their staffs have released a large amount of fascinating material, much of which has been ignored by The New York Times and some other major newspapers.

Far more assiduous have been reporters in the Knight-Ridder bureau. On July 26 readers of such Knight-Ridder papers as The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Miami Herald learned from a lengthy report by Frank Greve and Mark Fazlollah that secret commando units run out of the National Security Council had engaged directly with Sandinista forces inside Nicaraguan territory. Under the supervision of Acting President Oliver North was an Army unit called the Intelligence Support Activity; a Navy group, SEAL Team Six; and a helicopter assault group, Task Force 160. According to Greve and Fazlollah, the I.S.A. and Task Force 160 flew saboteurs inside Nicaragua in 1983 and 1984, and provided machine-gun and rocket cover for these U.S forces against "entrenched Nicaraguan troops." All of this was strenuously denied at the time, with barrages of lies about "unilaterally controlled Latino assets" and similar hokum.

North's secret teams seem to have spent too much time watching Miami Vice. Federal investigators questioned the high expenses run up by I.S.A. units and SEAL Team Six, including, in the case of the I.S.A., a Rolls-Royce and hot air balloon acquired from the Drug Enforcement Administration and, in the case of the Navy SEALs, several Mercedes-Benz sedans, acquired "on the ground that they were inconspicuous worldwide." North probably wanted the cars so he could drive to meet Abu Nidal on an equal footing. The toughs from the I.S.A. got depressed at all the probes, and most of them moved over to the C. …

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