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Tracking Number:  321795

Title:  "US Opinion: Walsh Report on Iran-Contra." Sampling of US news commentary on independent counsel Lawrence Walsh's final report on the Iran-Contra Affair. US Press Opinion. (940119)

Date:  19940119

Text:
*NEA306

01/19/94 *

U.S. OPINION: WALSH REPORT ON IRAN-CONTRA (Roundup of newspaper columns) (1070) Columnists and other opinion-writers are commenting editorially on independent counsel Lawrence Walsh's final report on the "Iran-Contra" affair -- the covert plan in the mid-1980's (allegedly supported by the Reagan White House) to sell arms to Iran and divert the proceeds to the "contra" rebels in Nicaragua, assistance to whom had been banned by Congress. The Walsh report was released on January 18, 1994. Following are excerpts from some of those columns:

(BEGIN EXCERPTS) THE NEW YORK TIMES, PETER KORNBLUTH AND MALCOLM BYRNE (CO-EDITORS OF "IRAN-CONTRA SCANDAL: THE DECLASSIFIED HISTORY"):

...Mr. Walsh's report...makes clear that (Reagan administration officials) did indeed have much to hide. Once and for all the Walsh report dispels the carefully cultivated mythology surrounding the scandal, which involved illegal sales of arms to Iran, diversion of funds from these sales to finance the Nicaraguan contras and a cover-up to conceal the entire affair.

...It sheds light on serious flaws in our system...which allowed a constitutional crisis to occur and which remain unresolved. The report notes, in particular, the inadequacy of the 1987 Congressional investigation....

The report sets the record straight on the major players in the scandal. -- On Ronald Reagan: The report contradicts the popular image of a disengaged President misled by those around him. Mr. Walsh's investigators conclude that Mr. Reagan "created the conditions which made possible the crimes committed by others in his Administration," and "permitted the creation of a false account of the Iran arms sales to be disseminated to members of Congress and the American people."

-- On George Bush: Contrary to his public pronouncements, the report states, Vice President Bush "was fully aware of the Iran arms sales...and he participated fully in discussions to obtain third-country funding for the contras."

-- On Oliver North: The report records a pattern of illicit activity from destruction of evidence to perjury to personal graft....

-- On Edwin Meese: The report identifies the former Attorney General as having spearheaded a cover-up of the Iran arms sales....

THE WASHINGTON TIMES, THEODORE B. OLSON (FORMER PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN'S ATTORNEY):

...Mr. Walsh's obsession with his role in this investigation has driven him for seven years to try to validate pre-formed judgments, however inaccurate they have proven to be....

The court that reviewed Mr. Walsh's report prior to its release made it clear that the report does not have the court's approval or imprimatur. The court was obviously disturbed that the report was "rife" with accusations directed at persons who have never been indicted, or if indicted, never convicted, or if convicted, their convictions were overturned on appeal.... As the court declared, this is not the work of a Prosecutor. Prosecutors do not slander innocent persons. It is simply a compilation of opinions that belong to Mr. Walsh and no one else.

Even Mr. Walsh's report concedes, however grudgingly, that there "is no credible evidence that former President Reagan violated any criminal statute." But he goes on to make an irresponsible and false charge that high-ranking Reagan administration officials engaged in a "cover-up" to conceal the fact of Mr. Reagan's knowledge of 1985 shipments of weapons to Iran....

The evidence is well-documented and overwhelming that the essential facts of the Iran initiative were fully, frequently and immediately disclosed by Mr. Reagan and his top advisers. The notes of the participants in the White House meetings considered by Mr. Walsh independently refute the notion of a cover-up and demonstrate that by using selected out-of-context fragments of the notes, the independent counsel has falsely depicted the events that his report describes....

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, MARK BREDEMEIER (GENERAL COUNSEL FOR LANDMARK LEGAL FOUNDATION, WHICH REPRESENTS FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL EDWIN MEESE):

...For seven years, Mr. Walsh has been investigating the 1985 strategic initiative involving arms transfers to Iran and the unauthorized diversion of funds from this initiative involving arms transfers to Iran and the unauthorized diversion of funds from this initiative to support Nicaraguan freedom fighters. Yesterday, his report accuses -- falsely, unfairly and without proof -- Ronald Reagan, George Bush, former Attorney General Ed Meese and other former cabinet officials of a convoluted conspiracy....

...The Walsh account is a bizarre blend of fantasy and contradiction. It admits the investigation failed to uncover sufficient evidence to "justify prosecution" of some claims and that charges against Ed Meese could not be proved "beyond a reasonable doubt." With a cost in excess of $40 million, this report represents a feeble attempt to divert attention from the independent counsel's dismal Iran-Contra conviction record and from his own culpability for violating rules of professional responsibility and federal law, including criminal procedural requirements and statues protecting classified documents....

THE WASHINGTON TIMES, MARK LEVIN (DIRECTOR OF LEGAL POLICY FOR LANDMARK LEGAL FOUNDATION, WHICH REPRESENTS FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL EDWIN MEESE):

...Mr. Walsh's out-of-court accusations are contemptible falsehoods. He refused to make his case in a courtroom where he would be required to overcome such inconveniences as facts, motive and proof. Instead, Mr. Walsh chose the coward's route -- a public report in which he accuses untold numbers of Reagan administration officials of crimes for which they have never been charged....

Astonishingly, while Mr. Walsh imagines a cover-up on the part of Reagan administration officials, in truth he conducted his own cover-up. Over the past few months, Mr. Walsh obstructed virtually every effort of Mr. Meese to gain access to the same materials and information Mr. Walsh cites in his now public report... Even more shocking, Mr. Walsh opposed allowing Mr. Meese to read Mr. Walsh's full report prior to its public release....

Why would Mr. Walsh, selected by a special judicial panel to serve as an independent counsel, so abuse his public trust and dishonor his appointment by issuing a document filled with distortions of fact, misuse of evidence and false accusations against honorable public officials who are totally innocent of wrongdoing?

The answer is that instead of performing a timely, competent and thorough investigation to determine whether any real crimes had been committed and, if so, to promptly prosecute them, Mr. Walsh has carried on a seven-year fruitless search for non-existent criminal offenses and substituted politically oriented hostility for objective fact-finding....

(END EXCERPTS) NNNN


File Identification:  01/19/94, NEA306; 01/19/94, EPF311; 01/19/94, LEF314; 01/19/94, EFS304; 01/21/94, NAA505
Product Name:  Wireless File
Product Code:  WF
Languages:  Arabic
Keywords:  NEWS MEDIA COMMENTARY; REPORTS & STUDIES; WALSH, LAWRENCE; IRAN-CONTRA AFFAIR; INVESTIGATIONS; REAGAN, RONALD; MEESE, EDWIN
Target Areas:  NE; EA; AR; EU
PDQ Text Link:  321795
USIA Notes:  *94011906.NEA 01/19 edit rndp/BG as kf




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