May 22, 1987 – a day of mixed messages. Memorial services were being held this day for the personnel killed aboard the USS Stark when it was attacked by Iraqi missiles in the Persian gulf earlier in the week. On hand was President and Mrs. Reagan and the grief-stricken families of the 37 crewmen. A lot of anguish and emotion in Florida and a lot of questions in Washington. Many felt it was a signal for the U.S. to commit ground forces in the Persian Gulf region, or to at least step up the Naval presence. But many also felt we were in a precarious position, since we were supposedly on friendly terms with the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, but also involved in clandestine activities with Iran, having to do with the continued Investigation into the Iran-Contra affair. Most on Capitol Hill felt it was a no-win situation, since we were still licking our wounds from the Lebanon fiasco and the terrorist attack on the Marine Barracks in Beirut only four years earlier. But for the moment, officials were hoping the Memorial and the gathering of the families to share their grief would offer some closure and comfort.
Meanwhile – Assistant Secretary of State Richard Murphy, who went to Baghdad on a fence-mending mission only days before the Stark incident, warned Congress that an Iranian Oil blockade in the Persian Gulf would bring economic disaster. He said that such a blockade would lead to actual of psychological interruption, causing a major surge in oil prices, global inflation and recession, including the U.S. – remembering our foray into the Lebanon conflict, the Senate voted 91-5 the day before to block U.S. escorts for Kuwaiti Tankers until the Administration provided a full report on how U.S. forces were going to protect themselves.
David Kimche, Israel‘s former director general of the Foreign Ministry was ordered not to talk to the Iran-Contra Grand Jury that summoned him to Washington. Israeli officials were described as surprised and furious at the decision to subpoena Kimche, who was one of at least four Israelis acting as intermediaries in the arms sales and shipments to Iran in 1985 and 1986. Officials were quoted as saying Kimche would appear before the U.S. Grand Jury if he had to, to avoid contempt charges. But would refuse to testify on the grounds that doing so would violate an order of the Israeli government and it might reveal State Secrets. Israel has publicly said it was willing to cooperate with investigators on a government-to-government basis, and has already submitted to the U.S. a detailed chronology of Israel’s involvement in the Iran-Contra arms affair.
And that’s just a slice of what happened on this May 22, 1987 – by way of The CBS World News Roundup.