On August 8th, former White House Counsel and former U.S. Ambassador C. Boyden Gray wrote, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, that in the Iran-Contra criminal investigation, “no one was convicted or even indicted for any action pertaining to Iran or the Contras.”
This statement is incorrect, and on August 10th I sent the WSJ a letter spelling that out.
Because the Journal hasn’t published my letter, and because I’m pro-facts, I post it here:
Editor, The Wall Street Journal
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036
To the Editor:
Former White House Counsel C. Boyden Gray has misremembered the facts of Iran-Contra, on which we each worked, sometimes as counterparts.
Mr. Gray wrote (“Mueller Can Avoid an Iran-Contra Repeat,” Aug. 8) that “no one was convicted or even indicted for any action pertaining to Iran or the Contras.”
In fact, a federal grand jury charged former National Security Adviser John Poindexter, his aide Lt. Col. Oliver North, and two others with multiple felonies pertaining to both Iran and the Contras. Count One in that indictment charged that they had engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the United States in three respects: (1) by deceitfully supporting the Contra war in Nicaragua in defiance of congressional controls; (2) by using U.S. arms sales to Iran to raise funds for Poindexter and North, rather than the U.S. Government, to spend; and (3) by pursuing unauthorized operations in Iran that endangered U.S. efforts to rescue Americans held hostage in Lebanon. Count Two charged that the defendants had stolen U.S. government property (Iran arms sales proceeds). Count Three charged that they had committed wire fraud in their transmissions of those proceeds.
Although the trial judge upheld the legal validity of the first two charges (dismissing the third as duplicative), the prosecutor, Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh, for whom I worked, ultimately agreed to dismiss them after Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, whom Mr. Gray served as Counsel, would not declassify information that the judge had ruled the defendants were entitled to use in their defense.
John Q. Barrett
Professor of Law, St. John’s University
Associate Counsel, Office of Independent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh, 1988-1993