A Final Report worth reading and the criminalization of policy differences

Lawrence Walsh:

On October 7, 1991, Abrams pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of withholding information from Congress. Abrams admitted that he withheld from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) in October 1986 his knowledge of North’s contra-assistance activities. In support of his guilty plea, Abrams admitted that it was his belief “that disclosure of Lt. Col. North’s activities in the resupply of the Contras would jeopardize final enactment” of a $100 million appropriation pending in Congress at the time of his testimony.3 He also admitted that he withheld from HPSCI information that he had solicited $10 million in aid for the contras from the Sultan of Brunei.…

When the Iran initiative was exposed on November 3, 1986, the President convened a series of meetings with his top national security advisers and permitted the creation of a false account of the Iran arms sales to be disseminated to members of Congress and the American people.4 These false accounts denied the President’s knowledge and authorization of the initial sales from Israeli stocks of U.S.-made TOW and HAWK missiles to Iran in August, September and November of 1985. Attorney General Edwin Meese III and others were concerned that those sales violated the Arms Export Control Act and the National Security Act of 1947.5 Previously withheld notes by participants in the November 12 and November 24, 1986, meetings constituted evidence of an effort to cover up the true facts of the President’s authorization of the 1985 Iran arms sales.…

It was in his capacity as President that Bush committed what will likely become his most memorable act in connection with Iran/contra. On December 24, 1992, twelve days before former Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger was to go to trial, Bush pardoned him.1 In issuing pardons to Weinberger and five other Iran/contra defendants, President Bush charged that Independent Counsel’s prosecutions represented the “criminalization of policy differences.”

President Bush also pardoned former National Security Adviser Robert C. McFarlane, former Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams, former CIA Central American Task Force Chief Alan D. Fiers, Jr., former CIA Deputy Director for Operations Clair E. George, and former CIA Counter-Terrorism Chief Duane R. Clarridge. The Weinberger pardon marked the first time a President ever pardoned someone in whose trial he might have been called as a witness, because the President was knowledgeable of factual events underlying the case.

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