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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Tracking Number:  236044

Title:  "Crowe Refutes Newsweek/ABC Reporting on Vincennes." During testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Admiral William Crowe, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, strongly refuted charges of a cover-up on the shooting down of an Iranian civilian airliner by the US guided-missile cruiser Vincennes in 1988. (920720)

Date:  19920721


07/21/92 *

CROWE REFUTES NEWSWEEK/ABC REPORTING ON VINCENNES (Crowe testifies to Armed Services Committee) (630) By Rosalind Mandine USIA Staff Writer Washington -- Admiral William Crowe, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, strongly refuted charges of a cover-up on the shooting down of an Iranian Airbus civilian airliner by the U.S. cruiser Vincennes in 1988, during testimony before the House of Representatives' Armed Services Committee July 21.

The charges of a cover-up were made in a July 13 Newsweek magazine article by John Barry and Roger Charles and in a Nightline television program. The Newsweek article also alleged that the United States was engaged in a secret war against Iran on behalf of Iraq and that the Vincennes was the aggressor in the downing of the Iranian Airbus.

Chairman Les Aspin (Democrat from Wisconsin) said the Armed Services Committee will be looking into these charges by interviewing experts and witnesses and scheduling additional hearings.

The Newsweek article and Nightline program implicated Admiral Crowe in a cover-up regarding the Navy's investigation of the downing of the Iranian Airbus by the Vincennes, charges the admiral vehemently denied during his testimony.

Crowe called ABC's and Newsweek's reporting "inflated and outrageous rhetoric" based on "very slim and often mistaken information."

He took particular exception to allegations that he participated in a cover-up or manipulated the investigation conducted by Rear Admiral William Fogarty.

"Any suggestion that I influenced or manipulated Admiral Fogarty's efforts is false and personally malicious," Crowe stressed.

Crowe said that "we were extremely careful to keep Congress informed." "We notified Congress accurately and speedily of all our engagements -- whether the news was good or bad," he said.

Addressing the issue of whether the Vincennes was the aggressor in the incident, Crowe noted that U.S. rules of engagement "strongly emphasized that each commanding officer's first responsibility was to the safety of his ship and crew." He also noted the "air of terrorism and peril that pervaded the Gulf at that time."

He criticized the Newsweek and Nightline treatment of the incident, saying that nothing was written "about the Iranian role in the Airbus tragedy." Crowe said "there was no coordination between Iranian surface raiders and civil air authorities. The tower at Bandar Abbas airport did not monitor emergency frequencies and therefore failed to alert the pilots of the Airbus."

"No one suggests that there were no mistakes made on the morning of July 3, 1988, and in the time that followed. But making mistakes is a long step from a deliberate 'cover-up,'" Crowe said.

Crowe scoffed at the article's focus on whether the Vincennes was actually in Iranian territorial waters just before it mistakenly shot the Airbus down.

Crowe said "a warship acting in self defense has the right under international law to enter the aggressor waters and defend itself," he said, adding that the rules of engagement which governed the commander of the Vincennes "clearly permitted entering Iran's waters if his ship was under imminent threat or engaged."

He stressed that the fact that the Vincennes was in Iranian waters was disclosed in the official classified report to the Congress.

Crowe also scoffed at Newsweek's and ABC's allegations that the United States was engaged in a secret war against Iran and in behalf of Iraq. Crowe said that any perceived U.S. tilt toward Iraq during this time "was written about extensively in the U.S. press and a subject of considerable congressional commentary."

"I would suggest that ABC's characterization that the reflagging operation was a tilt against Iran is neither profound nor a new thought," he said.


File Identification:  07/20/92, NE-206; 07/22/92, NA-307
Product Name:  Wireless File
Product Code:  WF
Languages:  Arabic
Thematic Codes:  1NE
Target Areas:  NE
PDQ Text Link:  236044
USIA Notes:  *92072106.NEA crowe/vincennes/iran/hasc/#rm yb sa kf

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