Lawrence Barcella

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Person.png Lawrence Barcella  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Lawrence Barcella.jpg
Born23 May 1945
Died4 November 2010 (Age 65)
Alma materDartmouth College, Vanderbilt University Law School
Member ofHouse October Surprise Task Force
Interests • October Surprise
• Arms for Libya
• “Iran-Contra”
Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. "A favorite of the intelligence community" he was involved in a number of intelligence-related cases. He was also part of the Congressional cover-up of October Surprise.

E. Lawrence Barcella Jr., often known as Larry Barcella was Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. "A favorite of the intelligence community",[1] he was involved in a number of intelligence-related cases. He was also part of the Congressional cover-up of October Surprise.


Barcella graduated in history from Dartmouth College in 1967, and from Vanderbilt University Law School in 1970.[2]


Barcella joined the District of Columbia U.S. Attorney's Office in 1971, shortly after graduating from law school. He handled a number of high-profile terrorism cases, and in 2010 The Washington Post said that he became in effect "the Justice Department's de facto lead terrorism prosecutor."[3] These cases included the Letelier assassination (1976), the twin bombings in Beirut in 1983 of a US barracks and the US embassy, and the 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking.

Orlando Letelier

Barcella carried out a investigation into the murder of Chilean exile minister Orlando Letelier, who was assassinated in the streets of Washington DC. The investigation led to the arrest and prosecution of Cuban exile terrorists who worked directly with the DINA Chilean secret police agency.[1]

Arms for Libya

Full article: Rated 4/5 Arms for Libya

Lawrence Barcella led the US Department of Justice’s manhunt for spook Edwin Wilson, who had been set up the Arms for Libya weapons deal. Robert Parry states that Barcella worked with the CIA in that case: “Luckily for the CIA, the chief (October Surprise) investigator, E. Lawrence Barcella Jr. was a favorite of the intelligence community and had worked closely with many of the figures implicated in the October Surprise affair."[4]

In 1982, Barcella "staged a covert business deal that was actually a sting operation and lured Wilson into flying from Libya to the Dominican Republic", from where Wilson was extradited.[3]

Barcella was also close friends with Michael Ledeen. The two men shared a housekeeper and socialized together.[1] In 1982, when Barcella was the lead prosecutor in the Edwin Wilson case, Ledeen visited Barcella's home one night to urge that the prosecutor drop Ted Shackley from the investigation. Neither Barcella nor Ledeen saw anything wrong with Ledeen's out-of-channel contact. "He just wanted to add his two-cents worth," Barcella told journalist Robert Parry. "This is a community in which people help friends understand things." [1]

Barcella "denied wrongdoing in connection with the bogus Wilson [Briggs] affidavit", which concealed about 80 contacts between Wilson and the CIA during the time period in question. The exposing of the fraud caused Wilson's conviction to be overturned after almost 20 years.[1]


In 1985 Barcella gave a legal opinion to an unnamed government official on giving go-ahead to an Iran-Contra-related weapons shipment: "a private $5 million shipment of Soviet-bloc rifles, machine guns and grenade launchers to the Nicaraguan contras – 10 months after Congress had cut off government support to the contras." Barcella's boss, when first asked about the opinion, said "Assistant U.S. attorneys do not issue legal opinions on arms shipments... Larry would never have done that. ... It's a quagmire for any prosecutor to get into that stuff."[5]

October Surprise

Barcella was the lead counsel of the October Surprise Task Force,[1] a 1992 House of Representatives "investigation" of the collusion betwwen the team of Ronald Reagan and the Iranians to prevent the successful resolution to the Iran hostage crisis just before the 1980 election.

The task force, a cover-up of the affair, received heavy directions in corporate media, which published "debunking" stories, and from the George HW Bush White House. Barcella’s job was to confirm the "debunking." Robert Parry states that "How he did that was not important since corporate media "would cover his flank, no matter how silly his report was. Though eventually having to recognize that the Newsweek/New Republic Madrid 'alibi' for Casey was false, Barcella and his task force simply created a new one."[6]

Defending BCCI

In the 1990s Barcella, then in private practice, represented defendants in the BCCI affair, the biggest international banking corruption scandal in history. According to Parry’s Consortium News web site:[1] “In the 1980s, Barcella and his law firm earned more than $2 million from the Bank of Credit and Commerce International for giving legal advice, lobbying and handling public relations problems. Barcella denounced as ‘absurd’ early press allegations that BCCI had secretly gained control of First American Bank in Washington. (The story turned out to be true.) In 1991, BCCI collapsed amid scandal over its ties to international drug money-laundering and influence-peddling.”[7]