How a Deep State Plot Sank Jimmy Carter - WhoWhatWhy

How a Deep State Plot Sank Jimmy Carter

Reading Time: 8 minutes

carteroldguyHow do Wall Street, oil companies and the shadow government agencies like the CIA and NSA really shape the global political order?

That’s the question author Peter Dale Scott examines in his forthcoming book “The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil and the Attack on U.S. Democracy,” due out on Nov. 12. Scott, a professor emeritus of English at Berkeley and former Canadian diplomat, is considered the father of “deep politics”—the study of hidden permanent institutions and interests whose influence on the political realm transcends the elected.

In “American Deep State,” Scott takes a compelling look at the facts lurking behind the official histories of events to uncover the real dynamics in play. In this exclusive excerpt—the second of several we’ll be featuring on WhoWhatWhy—Scott narrates how manipulations by Big Oil and a shadowy alliance of national intelligence agencies called the Safari Club helped Ronald Reagan defeat President Jimmy Carter in the 1980 election.(For the first excerpt, please click here.) 

The Safari Club was an alliance between national intelligence agencies that wished to compensate for the CIA’s retrenchment in the wake of President Carter’s election and Senator Church’s post-Watergate reforms. As former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki bin Faisal once told Georgetown University alumni,

In 1976, after the Watergate matters took place here, your intelligence community was literally tied up by Congress. It could not do anything. It could not send spies, it could not write reports, and it could not pay money. In order to compensate for that, a group of countries got together in the hope of fighting Communism and established what was called the Safari Club. The Safari Club included France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Iran. (1)

After Carter was elected, the Safari Club allied itself with Richard Helms and Theodore Shackley against the more restrained intelligence policies of Jimmy Carter, according to Joseph Trento. In Trento’s account, the dismissal by William Colby in 1974 of CIA counterintelligence chief James Angleton,

combined with Watergate, is what prompted the Safari Club to start working with [former DCI Richard] Helms [then U.S. Ambassador to Iran] and his most trusted operatives outside of Congressional and even Agency purview. James Angleton said before his death that “Shackley and Helms … began working with outsiders like Adham and Saudi Arabia. The traditional CIA answering to the president was an empty vessel having little more than technical capability.”(2)

Trento adds that “The Safari Club needed a network of banks to finance its intelligence operations. With the official blessing of George Bush as the head of the CIA, Adham transformed . . . the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), into a worldwide money-laundering machine.”(3) Trento claims also that the Safari Club then was able to work with some of the controversial CIA operators who had been forced out of the CIA by Turner, and that this was coordinated by Theodore Shackley:

Shackley, who still had ambitions to become DCI, believed that without his many sources and operatives like [Edwin] Wilson, the Safari Club—operating with [former DCI Richard] Helms in charge in Tehran—would be ineffective. . . . Unless Shackley took direct action to complete the privatization of intelligence operations soon, the Safari Club would not have a conduit to [CIA] resources. The solution: create a totally private intelligence network using CIA assets until President Carter could be replaced. (4)

1During the 1980 election campaign each party accused the other of plotting an October Surprise to elect their candidate. Subsequently other journalists, notably Robert Parry, accused CIA veterans on the Reagan campaign, along with Shackley, of an arguably treasonable but successful plot with Iranians to delay return of the U.S. hostages until Reagan took office in January 1981. (5)

According to Parry, Alexandre de Marenches of the Safari Club arranged for William Casey (a fellow Knight of Malta) to meet with Iranian and Israeli representatives in Paris in July and October 1980, where Casey promised delivery to Iran of needed U.S. armaments in exchange for a delay in the return of the U.S. hostages in Iran. (6) Parry also suspects a role of BCCI in the subsequent flow of Israeli armaments to Iran.

De Marenches was also a member of the Pinay Circle, “an international right-wing propaganda group which brings together serving or retired intelligence officers and politicians with links to right-wing intelligence factions from most of the countries in Europe.” At a June 1980 meeting of the Pinay Circle “attention was turned towards the American Presidential election that was to bring Reagan to power.”(7)

A more usual explanation for Carter’s defeat in 1980 was the second oil shock of 1979–1980, in which an acute gas shortage led to both a sudden increase in prices and long gas lines at service stations. It is customary for establishment scholars to blame the shortage on political upheavals in Iran, which led to “a cutoff of Iranian oil.”(8)

2However Robert Sherrill’s close analysis of the American oil industry demonstrates that American oil companies, not Iranian turmoil, were primarily responsible for the gas shortage:

          U.S. companies were up to their own strategy . . . . Although in fact America was importing more oil in January and February [1979], during the Iranian shutdown, than it had imported during the same period in 1978, major oil importers pretended that the Iranian “shortage” . . . was real. It was the excuse they gave for slashing the amount of gasoline they supplied to their retail dealers. . . . A CIA study showed that in the first five months of the year, at a time when the Administration was deploring our oil shortage, U.S. companies exported more oil than they had in those glut years 1977 and 1978.(9)

The oil majors’ manipulation of domestic oil prices, combined with Carter’s failure to bring the hostages home, combined to cause the first defeat for an elected president running for reelection, since that of Herbert Hoover in 1932.

Not mentioned by either mainstream journalists or Sherrill was the role quietly played by Saudi Arabia in augmenting the 1979 gas crisis: “The Saudis had cut production by nearly 1 million barrels a day to 9.5 million at the start of the year [1979], and in April 1979 they made a second cut to 8.5 million. The Saudis had the capacity to produce 12 million barrels a day at that point.”(10)

The Saudi manipulation of gas prices reflected their acute displeasure with the Camp David Accords of 1978, which did nothing to change Israeli control of Jerusalem. (11) But what concerns us here is that the concerted policy of big oil in 1979 was closely aligned with their deep state allies in the Saudi government and the Safari Club, to the severe detriment of Americans and their nominal government, the beleaguered Carter administration.

The oil shock and gas shortage contrived by big oil in 1979, together with the October Surprise, were the chief factors in enabling the subsequent Reagan Revolution. This in turn opened the door for a new phase in “continuity of government” or COG plans, that were secretly prepared over two decades by planners like Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, and then implemented on 9/11.


1. Ibrahim Warde, The Price of Fear: The Truth behind the Financial War on Terror (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 133. Cf. Robert Lacey, Inside the Kingdom: Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia (New York: Penguin Books, 2009), 66, 72, 76.

2. Joseph J. Trento, Prelude to Terror: The Rogue CIA and the Legacy of America’s Private Intelligence Network (New York: Carroll & Graf, 2005), 61.

3. Trento, Prelude to Terror, 104–5.

4. Trento, Prelude to Terror, 113–14.

5. “In 1980, Shackley was set on putting his former boss, George Bush, in the White House and possibly securing the CIA directorship for himself. Shackley volunteered his prodigious skills to Bush in early 1980. Though that fact has come out before, Shackley’s involvement in the Iran hostage issue, the so-called ‘October Surprise’ controversy, has been a closely held secret, until now” (Robert Parry, “Bush & a CIA Power Play—The Consortium,” Consortiumnews, http:// Cf. “The CIA/Likud Sinking of Jimmy Carter,” Consortiumnews, June 24, 2010, http://www.consortiumnews .com/2010/062410.html: “Inside the CIA, Carter and his CIA Director Stansfield Turner were blamed for firing many of the free-wheeling covert operatives from the Vietnam era, for ousting legendary spymaster Ted Shackley, and for failing to protect longtime U.S. allies (and friends of the CIA), such as Iran’s Shah and Nicaragua’s dictator Anastasio Somoza.”

6. Robert Parry, Trick or Treason: The October Surprise Mystery (New York: Sheridan Square Press, 1993), 154–55.

7. David Teacher, “The Pinay Circle and Destabilisation in Europe,” Lobster, 18, October 1989, The_Pinay_Circle.

8. W.Carl Biven, Jimmy Carter’s Economy: Policy in an Age of Limits (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002), 1: “There were more practical con- sequences of the Iranian crisis that tested the temper of the public; perhaps the most visible were a gasoline shortage and long lines of cars at gas stations caused by the cutoff of Iranian oil.” Cf. Daniel Yergin, The Quest: Energy, Security and the Remaking of the Modern World (New York: Penguin Press, 2011), 531: “The Iranian Revolution led to chaos in the oil market, rapid increases in prices, new gas lines, and a second oil shock, and the Carter administration started to come unwound.”In 2007 I myself wrote, “By effectively restricting the access of Iran to the global oil market, the Iranian assets freeze became a factor in the huge oil price increases of 1979 and 1981 (and thus an indirect cause of Carter’s electoral defeat in 1980)” (Scott, The Road to 9/11, 88). It was indeed a factor. But in the context I was arguing that the Iranian assets freeze attributed to Carter in 1979 was in fact part of a complex strategy arranged by advisers to the Chase Manhattan Bank. Prominent among these was Archibald Roosevelt, a former CIA officer and col- league of Copeland, whom Parry also accuses of involvement in the Republican October Surprise (Scott, The Road to 9/11, 91; Parry, Trick or Treason, 49, 51, 257).

9. Robert Sherrill, The Oil Follies of 1970–1980, 435–37. In like manner, William Engdahl has attributed the European oil crisis in 1979 to the market behavior of BP (F. William Engdahl, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order [London: Pluto Press, 2004], 173).

10. David B. Ottaway, The King’s Messenger: Prince Bandar bin Sultan and America’s Tangled Relationship with Saudi Arabia (New York: Walker, 2008), 41.

11. Robert Lacey, The Kingdom: Arabia & the House of Sa’ud (New York: Avon, 1981), 451–55: “Crown Prince Fahad decided he must distance himself from Washington. In February 1979 he cancelled a trip he had scheduled to meet President Carter in the following month” (452). In ensuing months of negotiations, Saudis first increased production in late 1979 and then increased their oil price in 1980. At issue also was the Saudi desire to acquire AWACS (airborne warning and control system) aircraft, which, as we shall see in chapter 10, were not supplied to them until under Reagan (Ottaway, The King’s Messenger, 42–47).

Where else do you see journalism of this quality and value?

Please help us do more. Make a tax-deductible contribution now.

Our Comment Policy

Keep it civilized, keep it relevant, keep it clear, keep it short. Please do not post links or promotional material. We reserve the right to edit and to delete comments where necessary.


16 responses to “How a Deep State Plot Sank Jimmy Carter”

  1. (Comment by reader @Ricky_Vaughn99) Don’t believe the hype. Jimmy Carter wasn’t all bad.

  2. david krall says:

    from: david t. krall

    For a long time, I have had difficulty finding and locating the subcommittee report
    by House Rep Donald J. Albosta which, investigated and confirmed a lot of what is written here. Has it gone into some historical “black-hole”? I’ve tried congressional web-sites, National Archives, etc. Any suggestions by you or others here?

  3. david krall says:

    from: david t. krall

    there is one other thing that just “erupted” in my recall or “memory banks:… early on
    in the Carter Administration a name was put into wide range circulation and put out
    as a potential CIA nominee as CIA director. The name and the individual in question
    sent a very clear, very unsubtle and very unmistakable, and can best be “assumed”
    or said as leaving no room (seen now as even now more so!) for misinterpretation
    in a very clear signal to the intelligence/national security community
    and apparatus or particular sectors within tied to corrupt pol/corp sectors…it is very important keep in mind the political climate at the time with massive exposures of Gov.Intelligence abuses and corruption and the very still existing and contiuning
    (at the time) “stench” and permeating “air” of a “still” or “post” watergate/vietnam “atmosphere” or “climate” & the evolvng repurcussions from this duel “residue” of Watergate and Vietnam during the Johnson and Nixon Presidencies and all the systemic abuses being reported and exposed about both, at the time by sectors, with guts and backbone, of the media, and the House of Rep and The Senate…The immediate WH predecessor to Pres. Carter, Pres. Ford, even had the audacity and nerve to repeatedly state and convince the world, with carefully crafted words, on a repeated, almost on a weekly basis: 1) while on the Warren Comm, “we “FOUND” no evidence of conspiracy”: 2) & that no prior deal was made to pardon former Pres. Nixon. {just imagine the info and data exposed/released if such a trial had indeed taken place at that time!] The name put out and, as announced as a “possible” CIA Director was in the midst and middle of this “climate” and was no coincidence, and most people forget this event: The Carter WH was putting forth at that time-Theodore “Ted” Sorensen, as possible CIA director and also, hence, head of the entire US Intel Community…
    if you think this was just a coincidence and also, equally read and reacted
    as such coincidence by various and in particular- “very specific” sectors of the CIA/DOD national security the time, well I can only say such occurrences are NOT coincidences and if perceived as such, fall out outside of the norms & boundries of human imagination, logic and coherent informed thought processes. Ted Sorensen’s name as possible CIA Dir… now that took some guts! maybe, not too smart but gusty and sent a very intentional “rocket off the bow” of/from
    the Carter WH…how else could or could not this have been seen or interpreted, at the time or even today???!!! For those not aware of Ted Sorenson I strongly advise to do a “search” on him…This will indeed connect more “dots” here…
    david t. krall

    • russbaker says:

      Mr Krall, as long as you are taking so much time to express yourself, which is most welcome, I’d very strongly suggest you take a few more minutes and please review your material for punctuation and styling. It is almost impossible to read– and therefore you are needlessly blunting your potential impact. Please note how your posts look in comparison with others, and you will see the obvious problem. Thanks for participating.

    • david krall says:

      No problem ! Thank you for the input and advice.
      I appreciate it. you can “call” me Dave or David.
      Some much data and research “in my head” from about 40 years of
      research. Not so much expressing myself as sharing insights and
      supplementing or complimenting data from you and others.
      I will take it to heart.
      David T. Krall

    • Matt Prather says:

      The “edit” button for your original post is calling you, I think….

  4. david krall says:

    from: david t. krall

    follow-up: regarding The Albosta report, Donald J. Albosta (D-Michigan), served in House/Rep. from Jan 1979 to Jan. 1985. Chairman/headed the House Subcommittee on Human Resources. This committee investigated and issued a report. It is referenced and mentioned in a major article on The Oct. Surp ‘enterprise” written by Abby Hoffman in Playboy ((Oct.1988?). Is the entire report posted any where? I remember when it was issued and released (not sure it if was the only report of its kind dealing with this) but it was (for a short time, a big deal [!] ) a major story on the evening news. & I do recall watching a major piece/segment on ABC news at the time about military and intel people (as reported by this report & obviously checked out by ABC, among others) receiving orders to “watch out” for what the Carter WH was doing and planning…and that particular sectors of the Pentagon and Intel Community & “others” were part of an influential “shadow” or “parallel” network, “watching”/
    monitoring, working to control, undercut and undermine Carter WH negotiations to release the hostages held in Iran. Where and how can this entire report be accessed and downloaded? Professor Peter Dale Scott had made a perfectly lucid, detailed & rational case for such an “enterprise”. Thank you. Is it just a coincidence that, within minutes of Reagan becoming legally Pres & Bush being Vice Pres. with the reins l& levels of power now (& not after the election) formally and legally now in their hands, that the announcement and subsequent release of the hotages took place, just like the “announcement” of “no conspiracy” (from the WH ? ) to AF1 & to LBJ (with JFK’s body probably/not even not yet cold!)…It you think either of these “incidents” are just
    coincidences, you need to get a “reality check” and/or seek help…
    david t.krall

  5. david t. krall says:

    from: david t. krall
    before I proceed, let’s not forget the shooting and literally the close call of assassination that almost eclipsed and “bracketed” a very (almost) abbreviated Reagan WH ! Such power or a combination of it to remove a president will not just look in one “direction” or tilt to preserve its power… Regarding the Briefing Book/Oct. Surp Plot,I am total support and agreement with this proposition and view…post watergate/post vietnam…massive CIA/DOD/NSA/FBI exsposures, Church Committee, Schweicker-Hart Committee, Pike Committee reports, The HSCA conclusion and its strong recommendation to & for a future Justice Dept investigation of the JFK murder,
    mid east peace accords, formal recognition of Red China & “perceived abandonment”
    of Taiwan, perceived selling/abandonment of Panama Canal, perceived as “losing” the Shah, Iran and Nicaragua, seen as naive about Soviet plans/intentions in Afghanistan,
    “attacked” (thru media assets?) regarding Soviet troops in Cuba in Summer of 1979,
    massive/multiple “layoffs” and purges of intel personel CIA (& other agencies/depts?), naming a hands on CIA director with a military background who was NOT part of “THE OLD BOY NETWORK” or its Pentagon/Corp links or affiliations…and last but not least
    The Abosta Sub-Committee report which details, lays out and confirms most of what
    was “done” to Carter…can someone please tell me how /whereI can download this
    report??? What didn’t Carter do to upset his “right-flank”??? iran-Contra is just the “2nd chapter” or sequel to this treason, just as evil as what took place on 11/22/63.
    They pound their chest, take an oath to save and protect the USA, all the while
    mocking, “winking” and making deals (LBJ or Reagan/Bush) before and after JFK’s or Carter’s removal… where/ how can I download the Albosta report??? help! thank you.
    david t. krall

  6. Incurable Romanticist says:

    Carter “skunked” himself. Everyone got tired of stuff like failed attempts at rescuing hostages, bringing down the wrath of the entire Middle East by embracing the Shah, and saying “I’m a nu-cue-lar physicist,” when addressing the Three Mile Island meltdown. Then his brother peed in the street, and his sister prophesied contact with entities from the Aldebaran system. The whole world laughed.

    I was so not a Reagan fan, but I remember cheering when Reagan rode in a limousine and full regalia to his inaugural, so unlike Carter’s “strut” in his Sunday best before a Valiant,

    It was Carter who brought an end to all things “classy” in America’s image. And that is how we come to this point in history, when some numbskull like Scott can write an article like this, and expect, with good reason, to receive applause from the typical American audience. Why should anybody bother to read his or her way out of a paper bag when a guy like Carter can be president?

    I’m afraid we shall go on strutting, right into a future where we won’t be able to afford the gas for the limo, because the bird brained descendants of the Carter Administration have managed to borrow the USD right out of its hard won status as the world’s reserve currency.

    Once upon a time I might have believed that “shadow government agencies like the CIA and NSA really shape the global political order,” but that was all in the good old days, before Jimmy Carter brought everything American down to his level, all by himself.

  7. CactusPatch says:

    The article discredits itself with its praise for Carter, who never met a terrorist he didn’t like. Carter made a big deal about being an evangelic Christian prior to his election, afterward he either stood aside or worked against biblical morality. Though his position on abortion seems to have changed in recent years, to this day, he supports homosexual marriage.

    • owyhee cowboy says:

      Spot on!…. Yea, and don’t forget Trilateralist Jimmy!!
      I love it when Liberals try and paint there Horse Thief better then the conservative Horse
      Thief.All they did was change the hood orniment on the same truck!

  8. michael says:

    Treason is just an empty word in American politics.

    • cactuspie says:

      To the contrary, its now used to crush the little people who speak out or threaten the status quo. Just look at Edward Snowden.

  9. GeoH says:

    Ha. It says underneath the video, “This video is unlisted. Thank twice before sharing.” Uh huh.

  10. Orangutan. says:

    More on Continuity of Government Plans:

    We are laying the ground work for figuring out what is going on here, but we have a long way to go and we are pretty far behind. A lot of catching up is in order!!

    “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” – Bush White House aide Karl Rove explaining the New Reality to author Ron Suskind

    • MarkH says:

      There are a couple of things about that quote which are disquieting. First, he says “we’re an empire” and America has never sought that kind of dominance over other peoples. Second, he said they “create our own reality”, and we know from public events and statements the reality the Right wants to create in America is nasty, cruel and not supported by the Constitution. It can even be argued that their idea of a “new reality” is delusional. Finally, his quietus that we “will be left to just study what we do” is obviously grandiose thinking. Of course, those who oppose them will act. Nobody here is going to sit back and watch them destroy America by creating it anew in their delusional image.