Iran-Contra Report Now Tougher on Reagan, Newspaper Says
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Liberal members of the congressional Iran-Contra committees have managed to write harsher criticisms of President Reagan into the latest version of the committees’ findings, according to a published report.
Spokesmen for the Senate and House committees, however, declined to confirm details of a Sunday New York Times report which said the most recent draft accuses Reagan of supporting an ″environment of inverted values″ and ″upside-down logic.″
Senate committee spokesman Lance Morgan said the report, which contains more than 25 chapters, is still being prepared and revised, but he added, ″I’m not going to comment on what’s in it.″
The committees investigating the sale of arms to Iran and the diversion of proceeds from those sales to the Nicaraguan rebels originally planned to release their closely guarded findings this Friday.
But declassification by the White House and printing of the report will delay its release for about two weeks, House committee spokesman Bob Havel said Sunday.
Havel, too, declined any comment on the Times report.
The Times said liberal members of the committee toughened language on Reagan’s role. Two weeks earlier, conservatives had secured major changes in the report, including deletion of comparisons to the Watergate scandal that brought down President Nixon in 1974, the Times said.
The Times report did not disclose who provided the newspaper with material from an executive summary that will accompany the full report.
The newspaper quoted the summary as saying Reagan ″created or at least tolerated an environment where those who knew of the diversion believed with absolute certainty that they were carrying out the president’s policies.″
″While the president was denying any illegality, his subordinates were engaging in a cover-up,″ it quotes the summary as saying.
Another quoted paragraph from the summary says: ″Officials viewed the law not as a boundary for their actions but as an impediment to their goals. When the goals and the laws collided, the law gave way.″
The Times quoted Senate committee member Orrin G. Hatch, a Utah Republican, as saying the draft is ″still very troublesome.″
It also quoted a ″conservative official″ it did not name as saying: ″The tone is much harsher. The report now seems to say that the president may have known about the Contra diversion but that the committees just can’t prove it.″
Efforts to reach Hatch on Sunday were not successful. Phone calls to two of his aides, in Washington and Utah, brought no answer. The senator’s home number is unlisted.
Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., said last week that declassification by the White House is taking longer than expected. The report has been prepared with the use of some classified information provided to the committee, he said.
The voluminous report is expected to include both the executive summary and a minority report.
Havel said security surrounding work on the report by members of Congress and their staffs remains tight, with lawmakers required to have a security officer with them when they take copies to their offices.
A staff source on one of the committees, speaking only on condition of anonymity, said there has been no specific second or third drafts of the report but that various chapters have undergone several revisions.
The source described the process as a bipartisan effort similar to the conduct of the public hearings, with representatives of lawmakers from both parties going over each paragraph to see if it was supported by the facts.
He said most of those working on the report are lawyers and the discussion over its content has been ″extremely collegial,″ although he acknowledged the process ″of course, has not been without any regard to politics.″