Inside the Iran-contra Cover-Up
"... When [George] Shultz returned to the State Department, he dictated a note to his aide, CHARLES HILL, who wrote down that Reagan's men were "rearranging the record." They were trying to protect the president through a "carefully thought out strategy" that would "blame it on Bud" McFarlane. As part of that strategy, virtually all of Reagan's top advisers, including Shultz, gave false and misleading testimony to Congress and prosecutors. Their accounts essentially blamed the illegalities on Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North and his bosses at the National Security Council, McFarlane and Poindexter. Pretty much everyone else -- at the CIA, Defense Department, the Vice President's Office and the White House -- claimed ignorance. Even though Oliver North testified in 1987 that he was the "fall guy" in this implausible scenario, the Democrats and much of the press corps still fell for it. There was a clicking of wine
glasses around Washington as the "men of zeal" cover story was enshrined as the official history of the Iran-contra affair. A painful Watergate-style impeachment battle had been averted. ..."
The key notes, taken by CHARLES HILL, Shultz's
executive assistant, were nearly verbatim, contemporaneous accounts of Shultz's meetings within the department and Shultz's reports to HILL on meetings the secretary attended elsewhere. The Hill notes and similarly detailed notes by Nicholas Platt, the State Department's executive secretary, provided the OIC with a detailed account of Shultz's knowledge of the Iran arms sales. The most revealing of these notes were not provided to any Iran/contra investigation until 1990 and 1991. The notes show contrary to his early testimony that he was not aware of details of the 1985 arms transfers, Shultz knew that the shipments were planned and that they were delivered. Also in conflict with his congressional testimony was evidence that Shultz was aware of the 1986 shipments.
Independent Counsel concluded that Shultz's early
testimony was incorrect, if not false, in significant respects, and misleading, if literally true, in others. When questioned about the discrepancies in 1992, Shultz did not dispute the accuracy of the Hill notes. He told OIC that he believed his testimony was accurate at the time and he insisted that if he had been provided with the notes earlier, he would have testified differently. Independent Counsel declined to prosecute because there was a reasonable doubt that Shultz's testimony was willfully false at the time it was delivered.
Independent Counsel concluded that Hill had willfully withheld relevant notes and prepared false testimony for Shultz in 1987. He declined to prosecute because
Hill's claim of authorization to limit the production of his notes and the joint responsibility of Shultz for the resulting misleading testimony, would at trial have raised a reasonable doubt, after Independent Counsel had declined to prosecute Shultz....
Expertise: International political affairs
Charles Hill, a career minister in the U.S. Foreign Service, is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. Hill was executive aide to former U.S. secretary of state George P. Shultz (1985–89) and served as special consultant on policy to the secretary-general of the United Nations from 1992 to 1996. He is also diplomat in residence and lecturer in International Studies at Yale University.
Among Hill's awards are the Superior Honor Award from the Department of State in 1973 and 1981; the Distinguished Honor Award in 1978; the Presidential Meritorious Service Award in 1986; the Presidential Distinguished Service Award in 1987 and 1989; and the Secretary of State's Medal in 1989. He was granted an honorary doctor of laws degree by Rowan University.
In 1983, Hill was appointed chief of staff of the State Department, following his serving as deputy assistant secretary for the Middle East.
His career took him to the Middle East in 1978, where he was deputy director of the Israel desk; in 1979 he became political counselor for the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. In 1981, he was named director of Israel and Arab-Israeli affairs, and in 1982 he served as deputy assistant secretary for the Middle East.
Hill began his career in 1963 as a vice consul in Zurich, Switzerland. In 1964, he became a Chinese-language officer in Taichubg, Taiwan, and in 1966 was appointed as a political officer in Hong Kong. He was mission coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon in 1971–1973, and then in the State Department as China cultural exchange negotiator. He was involved in the 1974 Panama Canal negotiations,
then became a member of the policy planning staff as a speech writer for Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1975.
During 1970, he was a fellow at the Harvard University East Asia Research Center. He was a Clark fellow at Cornell University in 1989.
He received an A.B. degree from Brown University in 1957, a J.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1960, and an M.A. degree in American studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 1961.
Hill has collaborated with former U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali on Egypt's Road to Jerusalem, a memoir of the Middle East peace negotiations, and Unvanquished, about U.S. relations with the U.N. in the post–cold war period, both published by Random House. Hill is the editor of the three-volume Papers of U.N. Secretary-Generalm Boutros-Ghali, published by Yale University Press.
The Next World Order
The Bush Administration may have a brand-new doctrine
by Nicholas Lemann
The New Yorker Magazine
"The outside experts on the Middle East who have the most credibility with the Administration seem to be Bernard Lewis, of Princeton, and Fouad Ajami, of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, both of whom see the Arab Middle East as a region in need of radical remediation. Lewis was invited to the White House in December to brief the senior foreign-policy staff. "One point he made is,
Look, in that part of the world, nothing matters more than resolute will and force," the senior official I had lunch with told me--in other words, the United States needn't proceed gingerly for fear of inflaming the "Arab street," as long as it is prepared to be strong. The senior official also recommended as interesting thinkers on the Middle East CHARLES HILL, of Yale, who in a recent essay declared, "Every regime of the Arab-Islamic world has proved a failure," and Reuel Marc Gerecht, of the American Enterprise Institute, who published an article in The Weekly Standard about the need for a change of regime in Iran and Syria. (Those goals, Gerecht told me when we spoke, could be accomplished through pressure short of an invasion.) ..."
Hoover on the Air
On August 1, Research Fellow CHARLES HILL was a guest on The World (BBC). He was the guest of the Austin Hill Show on KTKP-AM, Phoenix, Ariz. (Independent), on August 24 to discuss the readiness and morale of the
U.S. military. On August 28, he was the guest of WERC-AM Radio—Birmingham, Ala. (ABC, Wall Street Journal Radio, AM/FM Radio Network), and on the nationally syndicated Mancow Muller Show, which is based in Chicago, to talk about U.S. military readiness.
Project for the New American Century
William Kristol, Ken Adelman, Gary Bauer, Jeffrey Bell, William J. Bennett, Ellen Bork, Linda Chavez, Eliot Cohen, Midge Decter, Thomas Donnelly, Nicholas Eberstadt, Hillel Fradkin, Frank Gaffney, Jeffrey Gedmin, Reuel Marc Gerecht, CHARLES HILL, Bruce P. Jackson, Donald Kagan, Robert Kagan, John Lehman, Tod Lindberg, Rich Lowry, Clifford May, Joshua Muravchik, Martin Peretz, Richard Perle, Daniel Pipes, Norman Podhoretz, Stephen P. Rosen, Randy Scheunemann, Gary Schmitt, William Schneider, Jr., Marshall Wittmann, R. James Woolsey
March 30, 2005
Professors make voices heard on opinion pages
Faculty feels tension between academic, popular
BY AMANDA RUGGERI
... Diplomat-in-Residence CHARLES HILL said he will never turn down an offer to write an op-ed. Sometimes, his habit of saying yes can be problematic, he said. Last summer, The Wall Street Journal asked him to submit an op-ed on the 9/11 Commission before the report had been released. He had to scramble to
find a way to look at the unreleased report.
"Even when a piece is apparently impossible to do, when I have had to give lectures or travel, I still do it," he said. ...
From: Jim Sleeper
Dear John Fund,
You called me at home this morning, Saturday, March 4, seeking information or a comment on the enrollment of the former Talibani spin doctor Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi as a non-degree student at Yale. You told me, as you tell readers in this, your second column in a row on the subject, that you are shocked, shocked that no one in authority at Yale would say anything about it to you. When I asked if you'd tried CHARLES HILL, a neoconservative Diplomat in Residence there, a Vulcan on the Iraq War and a scourge of terrorism, or the historian John Gaddis, who supports Hill as his colleague in their “Grand Strategy” seminar for bright students drawn to the national-security state, you said that even they weren't talking.
What? Not even Hill, who, writing in your own Journal in 2004, blamed inadequate intelligence performance mainly on “a decline in the quality of personnel, brought about by pressures for diversity” that bypass “broad-based historical and area-studies…. gained at ‘elite’ colleges and universities”? Gosh, John, I
could almost feel the pain in your false ingenuous wonderment on the phone: Could it be that Yale, for which you have the highest regard, has something to hide here and that even its truth-tellers have been muzzled?...
Big Man on Campus
Newsday, 26 February 2006
THE MAN ON WHOM NOTHING WAS LOST: The Grand Strategy
of Charles Hill, by Molly Worthen. Houghton Mifflin, 354 pp.
On university campuses there is very often a professor who is also a legend. He (it is usually a man) is learned, but also worldly; he projects an aura of authority suggesting some deeper intimacy with real life. His courses are listed in history, literature or political science, but his real subject is himself. Each lecture feels like a rite of initiation. The bureaucracy must find a way of coping with students
who want to take all of their electives with him.
Charles Hill -- a former Foreign Service officer who served in important positions under Henry Kissinger and George Schultz - has for a few years now taught a class at Yale University called Grand Strategy. Young aspirants to the diplomatic corps flock to it. His disciples are transfigured by the experience and copy down his blackboard diagrams as keys to the secrets of world power. Molly Worthen, a recent Yale graduate, was one of Hill's junior illuminati, and her book The Man on Whom Nothing Was Lost is an authorized biography of the great man.
But it is also a quest for the source of his greatness -- not to mention a meditation on the inner meaning (to her) of that quest. It is, in other words, both the reconstruction of an academic cult of personality and the most lasting of its symptoms. The author has some literary gifts, but they have not ripened; her prose is garrulous and repetitive, and she tends to mistake sententious comments (Hill's and her own) for profound thought. The result is not a book so much as it is an alumni-magazine profile gone horribly, horribly wrong.
Hill himself does not seem to be at fault. The word "modest" might not apply, but he does seem to understand that his career, while distinguished in its way, is of decidedly minor interest. His place in the history books will be as the source of raw material used in a footnote: Throughout his term as executive assistant to Schultz, Hill kept handwritten notebooks
running to more than 20,000 pages, some of which ended up as evidence in the Iran-Contra investigations.
Hill managed not to reveal some pertinent notes to investigators. (Worthen puts on a pro-forma display of brow-furrowing over his ethics in this matter. But she dutifully parrots the conservative line that executive privilege is now menaced by a "liberal media elite.")
The case of the missing notebooks is, perhaps, the most exciting moment in the entire book. Hill's life was that of a functionary who moved behind the scenes
-- analyzing Chinese newspapers from the mainland during the 1960s, for example, or writing the speeches through which Kissinger sought to convey to the world that he possessed a moral center.
Such work was challenging, no doubt, and amply rewarded with inside-the-Beltway status. It did not make for a happy home life. Hill comes across as a single-minded careerist who did not notice his wife's alcoholism until she mentioned it during the final days of their marriage. If not for the element of hero worship pervading the book, one might suspect an element of sarcasm in Worthen's title, which is borrowed from Henry James' injunction to be "one of the people on whom nothing was lost."
There is, in all of this, the substance of a good novella; but as a biography, it reads like the story of a Machiavelli who never got around to writing The Prince. Worthen insists (in the rapt tones of a true believer) that Hill's career has fitted him to be an excellent and life-transforming professor. In his lectures, she says, Hill transcends the limits of normal university teaching, where students are dissuaded from "reading the Western canon and practicing the art of sweeping judgment, but rather digging claustrophobic holes in some untold corner of the human experience, perhaps the history of the New York subway line number 9, or the changing role of laundresses in Jakarta."
Be that as it may, something is missing from Worthen's gale-force proclamations of wonder at the capacity of "Charlie" to bestride the world like a colossus. There is nothing resembling a substantial idea in the entire book. Worthen presents Hill as a neoconservative guru. But her portrait is that of a mind bearing less resemblance to the political philosopher Leo Strauss
than a walking edition of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations.
Banalities pass as insights. "This is not to say," she writes at one point, "that Charlie does not fear for the fate of human character." (Gosh, big guy, we do appreciate your concern and will all try to do better.)
Even with such depths to plunge, the author never
forgets herself entirely. Or at all, really. The narrative flow is regularly interrupted by her musings on the difficulties of biographical research, the changing estimate of Charlie's character, and invocations of how awesome Grand Strategy is (so
awesome, in fact, that it need never be defined). She also indulges in a considerable amount of "my generation" babble: "We sit in coffee shops and complain about the doldrums of 'real jobs,' the stress of having to commit to a career that won't ever let out for the summer," etc.
This is not a biography, but a study in self-absorption by proxy. The publisher ought to be ashamed. The manuscript should have been left in a drawer, where it might embarrass the author 10 years from now, and in private.
Excerpt: THE MAN ON WHOM NOTHING WAS LOST: The Grand
Strategy of Charles Hill, by Molly Worthen
"The genius of Charles Hill is his silence. In books
and in school we had encountered the far-off places and the Great Men whom he served: Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Israel; Ellsworth Bunker and Henry Kissinger, George Shultz and Boutros Boutros-Ghali. But he never mentioned them in class, and as artless freshmen we had yet to pick up on the gossip that the upperclassmen traded after his lectures. Most of us
were too young to remember the Iran-Contra affair, at the time preferring Saturday morning cartoons to Oliver North. We did not know that our professor"s notebooks helped to break open the investigation. Our ignorance was for the best. His
presence, his hold on the class, was enough to make us freeze in our seats. Filled at first with the happy murmur of weekend
gossip, the room snapped silent at nine o"clock when Professor Hill walked in. He wore a stone-colored suit, and he did not speak or look at us until he had taken his seat at the head of the table and pulled his yellow legal pad from his backpack. The
backpack, please note, was made of dignified brown leather and detracted only slightly from the overall gravity of his image.
He sat leaning close to the table, his back straight and motionless as a marble figure tipping imperceptibly from its column. During the week we spent studying the Romans, Professor Hill passed around a picture of the bust of Emperor Vespasian. He called it "The Roman Face." There was a resemblance between my instructor and the emperor"s ancient countenance, rough-hewn and furrowed, with wide, sad eyes that laid bare a life of hard decisions. Vespasian, too, had a strong mouth that rarely looked to speak, and then only to rapt attention. The emperor even had the same ears—medium-sized, protruding just a bit. Professor Hill claimed to have
never thought of the likeness...."
September 24, 2004
For God, Country, Yale and the CIA
A number of Yale graduates have worked for the Office
of Strategic Services, the CIA's predecessor. They dominated the CIA's leadership throughout the Cold War period and continue to join the agency in large numbers, said Diplomat-in-Residence Charles Hill, who teaches Studies in Grand Strategy with professors John Gaddis and Paul Kennedy.
CIA recruiters visit other college campuses, but they seem to have a predilection for Yalies -- it could have something to do with "nostalgia for the 'Old Blue' mentality," Hill said, or it could be that Yalies are simply more attractive candidates than their Ivy League counterparts.
"People who go to Yale are people of high character," he said. "In intelligence agencies, you need people with character; they've got to be intrepid, you have to know that they're going to do the job."
HILL ROBERT CHARLES
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