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1980 Election 'Hostage Tale'

November 03, 1988

I was astonished to note that the article did not mention the most important lead to evidence nor the best summary of the case. Perhaps The Times felt it beneath its dignity to mention the source for both: Playboy. In the August issue Abu Sharif of the Palestine Liberation Organization, in an interview mostly with Yasser Arafat, said the PLO has "hard evidence" of an approach to the PLO by a high-ranking member of the Reagan-Bush campaign in October, 1980, promising favors to the PLO if it would use its influence with Iran to have the hostages' release delayed.

This was not a casual mention that would be indicative of bluff: Abu Sharif spent half a page taunting the White House to deny the charge, saying it would love to drop a bombshell during the election. That may yet happen (I am aware of a couple of discussions on this with the PLO) but the group seems to have since then been preoccupied with its own problems.

In any event, the most formidable assembly of the evidence on the allegations appeared in the October issue of the same magazine, credibly fleshing out former Iranian President Bani-Sadr's statements. Since McManus mentioned the other claims but not these one has to wonder why. The charges are too well-known to have been ignored unintentionally.

SCOTT S. SMITH

Thousand Oaks

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