It's instructive to read the recent Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the 2001-2003 meetings between Pentagon officials and Iran contra figures Michael Ledeen and Manucher Ghorbanifar, side by side with the 2007 memoir of former CIA director George Tenet, At the Center of the Storm (Harper Collins, 2007, pp. 311-313). Indeed, doing so fills in a few details that were redacted in the Senate report, and amplifies others.
A couple points jump out in Tenet's account of what he dubs "the Sons of Iran-contra" episode. Chiefly, related to my latest article on signs of a possible federal investigation reviewing the matter, that Tenet writes that CIA lawyers threatened in 2002 to file a crimes report with the Justice Department if the channel to Ghorbanifar persisted. And persisted the channel of course did, for more than a year. Tenet:
On July 11, 2002, a senior CIA officer was told by the ambassador to Italy that Ledeen had called him to say he would be returning to Rome the next month to "continue what he had started." Our Rome representative met with his Italian counterparts and asked them not to provide any assistance to Ledeen unless the ambassador or CIA requested that they do so. A senior CIA lawyer contacted his NSC opposite number and asked whether anyone at the NSC had authorized Ledeen's visit. If not, he suggested, CIA might have to file a "crimes report" with the Justice Department., a requirement when we learn of a possible violation of the law.
About two weeks later, the NSC lawyer contacted CIA to say that Steve Hadley had called Ledeen in and "read him the riot act," telling him to "knock it off." In light of that, he said, they didn't see any need for a crimes report.
But Ledeen, and a Pentagon official Harold Rhode, did not "knock it off." Indeed, Rhode went on to meet with Ghorbanifar in Paris in June 2003 - in a meeting Ghorbanifar, laughing at the absurdity of the claim, told me was not in any way accidental, and which the Senate report further documents was planned (Rhode flew from Turkey to Paris for the meeting), but was not apparently authorized by the White House. There may also have been further meetings between Rhode and Ghorbanifar associates in London, the Senate report documents. And possibly another meeting as well in the fall of 2003, on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Rome, that Ledeen definitely and Rhode possibly attended, according to the Senate report, which was never able to definitively determine if Rhode was there.