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IRAN-CONTRA AFFAIR: THE FINAL REPORT : Contributor's Shotgun Drive Missed Target

November 19, 1987|From a Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — In his enthusiasm for the Contras, one private contributor went so far as to suggest rounding up a convoy of 18-wheel trucks to carry loads of used shotguns to Central America, the Iran-Contra investigating committees wrote in their report released Tuesday.

The idea came to light when the committees published a transcript of one of the first solicitations that private fund-raisers made on behalf of the rebels.

John Ramsey of Wichita Falls, Tex., proposed the novel scheme at an April, 1985, dinner in Washington with private fund-raisers Carl R. (Spitz) Channell, Richard R. Miller and Francis D. Gomez, a retired State Department worker. As Channell and Gomez pressed Ramsey to contribute money for automatic weapons, Ramsey offered the opinion that "a shotgun is the best thing to use in jungle warfare."

Wanted Tanks, Missiles

The report noted that this was "not exactly what (the fund-raisers) had in mind." Indeed, what they wanted were tanks, Red-eye missiles and AK-47 ammunition.

But Ramsey was not to be dissuaded.

"I bet I could get 10,000 people to give their old shotguns to this," Ramsey said. He said they could call their operation the "shotgun drive." As Ramsey envisioned it, a few truckers could enlist others, entreating over their citizen's band radios: "Somebody got an 18-wheeler empty can come down and help liberate Central America."

After a significant amount of persuading, Ramsey agreed to abandon the idea of the shotgun drive and offered $20,000 instead.

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