WASHINGTON, D.C. — The New York Times reported in early February that Oliver North, the former Reagan White House aide who directed financial assistance to the Nicaraguan Contras, had successfully concealed his objections to the release of the Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh’s full Iran-Contra report, which was made public in mid-January by the U.S. Court of Appeals, (D.C. Cir.).
North’s conviction on charges brought by Walsh was overturned when an appeals court said the conviction resulted from the use of his immunized testimony before Congress.
In January the Society for Professional Journalists, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the National Security Archive asked the appeals court to release all motions for suppressing portions of the report. Former President Ronald Reagan filed a similar motion, saying that media accounts of his court filings would otherwise be distorted.
The court ruled in early February that all court documents related to the release of the Iran-Contra report would be made public. However it stayed its order for five days to allow anyone who had filed objections to withdraw them. North then withdrew his filings, the Times reported.
Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh completed the report on his seven-year investigation into the Iran-Contra scandal in August; however, the court gave all persons named in the report opportunity to submit comments as required by the law setting up the independent counsel.
The journalists and the National Security Archive in late November asked the court to order the report released. In early December the court ordered release as soon as comments by individuals named in it could be included as an appendix, subject to deletions required by law or court order and to withholding of the classified index.
Noting “massive media coverage and debate,” the court said “as full a disclosure as possible” would serve the public’s interest.
(In re: Oliver North; Media Counsel: Henry Hoberman, Washington, D.C.)
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