Appeals court backs order requiring release of Iran-contra counsel’s report
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington (D.C. Cir.) in early January rejected motions to reconsider its December order allowing the public release of the final report of Lawrence Walsh, the independent counsel who investigated the Iran-contra scandal.
In December, the appeals court had allowed disclosure upon a motion by The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the National Security Archive, a private research group.
Following the December order, several individuals asked the court to reconsider its decision. They claimed a need to protect the rights of persons Walsh accused of crimes. Over the objection of the journalism and public interest organizations, the appeals court permitted these motions to be filed under seal.
The appeals court denied the motions and ordered disclosure of the report, exclusive of classified material, in large part because much of the contents have already been leaked. The court said that full disclosure would give persons named in the report a better chance to respond.
The appeals court also ruled that comments to the report filed by persons named in the report must be released, except when a commentator asked that his comments not be released. The court also denied a motion by an undisclosed person that all references to him be deleted.
The appeals court stayed the release of the report for 10 days or until the Supreme Court acts upon any motion for a stay.
(In re North; Media Counsel: Bruce W. Sanford, Washington, D.C.)