Donald P. Gregg studied at Williams College before joining the Central Intelligence Agency in 1951. According to Webster Griffin Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin (George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography) Gregg worked at JM/WAVE in Miami where he recruited Felix Rodriguez and Luis Posada as CIA agents. It is believed that Gregg, Rodriguez and Posada were all involved in Operation 40.
Gregg then served in Burma (1964-1966), Japan (1966-1969), Vietnam (1970-1972) where he served under Ted Shackley and Thomas G. Clines in Operation Phoenix. Gregg later admitted that he had been Felix Rodriguez’s case officer in Vietnam. Gregg also served in South Korea (1973-75) and became friendly with George H. W. Bush when he was appointed director of the CIA in 1976.
In 1979 Gregg was seconded to the National Security Council, where he was in charge of intelligence activities and Asian policy affairs. In 1982, he was asked by Vice President Bush to become his national security advisor. He then retired from the CIA, and was awarded its highest decoration, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal. During his six years with Bush, Gregg traveled to 65 countries.
On 17th March, 1983, Gregg had a secret meeting with Felix Rodriguez and George H. W. Bush in the White House. As a result the National Security Council established a secret scheme to provide aid to the Contras in Nicaragua. Rodriguez agreed to run the Contra supply depot in El Salvador. In a memo written to Robert McFarlane, Gregg argued that the plan grew out of the experience of running "anti-Vietcong operations in Vietnam from 1970-1972". Gregg added that "Felix Rodriguez, who wrote the attached plan, both worked for me in Vietnam and carried out the actual operations outlined above."
On 21st December, 1984, Gregg met with Felix Rodriguez and George H. W. Bush. This led to Gregg introducing Rodriguez to Oliver North. Later, Bush wrote a note to North where he thanked him for "your dedication and tireless work with the hostage thing and with Central America."
In October, 1985, Congress agreed to vote 27 million dollars in non-lethal aid for the Contras in Nicaragua. However, members of the Ronald Reagan administration, including George Bush, decided to use this money to provide weapons to the Contras and the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.
Gene Wheaton was recruited to use National Air to transport these weapons. He agreed but began to have second thoughts when he discovered that Richard Secord was involved in the operation and in May 1986 Wheaton told William Casey, director of the CIA, about what he knew about this illegal operation. Casey refused to take any action, claiming that the agency or the government were not involved in what later became known as Irangate.
Wheaton now took his story to Daniel Sheehan, a left-wing lawyer. Wheaton told him that Thomas G. Clines and Ted Shackley had been running a top-secret assassination unit since the early 1960s. According to Wheaton, it had begun with an assassination training program for Cuban exiles and the original target had been Fidel Castro.
Wheaton also contacted Newt Royce and Mike Acoca, two journalists based in Washington. The first article on this scandal appeared in the San Francisco Examiner on 27th July, 1986. As a result of this story, Congressman Dante Facell wrote a letter to the Secretary of Defense, Casper Weinberger, asking him if it "true that foreign money, kickback money on programs, was being used to fund foreign covert operations." Two months later, Weinberger denied that the government knew about this illegal operation.
On 5th October, 1986, a Sandinista patrol in Nicaragua shot down a C-123K cargo plane that was supplying the Contras. That night Felix Rodriguez made a telephone call to the office of George H. W. Bush. He told Bush aide, Samuel Watson, that the C-123k aircraft had gone missing.
Eugene Hasenfus, an Air America veteran, survived the crash and told his captors that he thought the CIA was behind the operation. He also provided information that several Cuban-Americans running the operation in El Salvador. This resulted in journalists being able to identify Rafael Quintero, Luis Posada and Felix Rodriguez as the Cuban-Americans mentioned by Hasenfus.
In an article in the Washington Post (11th October, 1986), the newspaper reported that George Bush and Gregg were linked to Felix Rodriguez. It gradually emerged that William Casey, Thomas G. Clines, Oliver North, Edwin Wilson and Richard Secord were also involved in this conspiracy to provide arms to the Contras.
On 12th December, 1986, Daniel Sheehan submitted to the court an affidavit detailing the Irangate scandal. He also claimed that Thomas G. Clines and Ted Shackley were running a private assassination program that had evolved from projects they ran while working for the CIA. Others named as being part of this assassination team included Rafael Quintero, Richard Secord, Felix Rodriguez and Albert Hakim. It later emerged that Gene Wheaton and Carl E. Jenkins were the two main sources for this affidavit.
Six days after the publication of Sheehan's affidavit, William Casey underwent an operation for a "brain tumor". As a result of the operation, Casey lost the power of speech and died, literally without ever talking. On 9th February, Robert McFarlane, another person involved in the Iran-Contra Scandal, took an overdose of drugs.
In November, 1986, Ronald Reagan set-up a three man commission (President's Special Review Board). The three men were John Tower, Brent Scowcroft and Edmund Muskie. The report implicated Oliver North, John Poindexter, Casper Weinberger and several others but did not mention the role played by George H. W. Bush. It also claimed that Reagan had no knowledge of what had been going on.
The House Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran was also established by Congress. The most important figure on the committee was the senior Republican member, Richard Cheney. As a result George H. W. Bush was totally exonerated when the report was published on 18th November, 1987. The report did state that Reagan's administration exhibited "secrecy, deception and disdain for the law."
Oliver North and John Poindexter were indicted on multiple charges on 16th March, 1988. North, indicted on twelve counts, was found guilty by a jury of three minor counts. The convictions were vacated on appeal on the grounds that North's Fifth Amendment rights may have been violated by the indirect use of his testimony to Congress which had been given under a grant of immunity. Poindexter was also convicted of lying to Congress, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, and altering and destroying documents pertinent to the investigation. His convictions were also overturned on appeal.
When George H. W. Bush became president he set about rewarding those who had helped him in the cover-up of the Iran-Contra Scandal. Brent Scowcroft became his chief national security adviser and John Tower became Secretary of Defence. When the Senate refused to confirm Tower, Bush gave the job to Richard Cheney. Several others, including Casper Weinberger, who was indicted for lying to the Independent Counsel, and Robert McFarlane, were pardoned by Bush.
In September, 1989, President George H. W. Bush appointed Donald Gregg as his ambassador to South Korea. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee investigated the appointment. Senator Alan Cranston pointed out that: "You (Gregg) told the Iran-Contra committee that you and Bush never discussed the Contras, had no expertise on the issue, no responsibility for it, and the details of Watergate-sized scandal involving NSC staff and the Edwin Wilson gang was not Vice Presidential. Your testimony on that point is demonstrably false. There are at least six memos from Don Gregg to George Bush regarding detailed Contra issues." Although Cranston voted against confirmation, the rest of the committee agreed that Gregg should become ambassador to Korea.
Gregg retired from the United States government in March, 1993. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and chairman of the Korea Society.