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Iran-Contra Panels OK Final Report; GOP Charges Bias

November 05, 1987|United Press International

WASHINGTON — The congressional Iran-Contra committees today approved their final report, amid Republican complaints that the Democrat-dominated panels investigating the scandal were too politically motivated and too tough on President Reagan.

The report, expected to be released in mid-November, apparently leaves open the question of Reagan's role in the possibly criminal diversion of money from the Iran arms sales to the Nicaraguan Contra rebels.

The Senate vote on the report, taken in a closed session, was 9 to 2, with Republicans Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and James A. McClure of Idaho voting against the findings. Three Republican senators--Warren B. Rudman of New Hampshire, William S. Cohen of Maine and Paul S. Trible Jr. of Virginia--agreed with the Democratic majority.

About an hour later, the nine Democrats and six Republicans on the House side of the committee, also meeting in closed session, approved the report on a strict party line vote.

Biting Dissenting Report

Hatch and McClure and Republican members of the House committee plan to join in a biting, 300-page dissenting report, a draft of which was made available to United Press International on Wednesday.

That draft asserts that the President did not know that about $3.5 million in profits from the arms sales were going to the Contra rebels. It denounces the proposed majority report as "a weapon in the ongoing guerrilla warfare" against the Reagan Administration.

The majority draft left open the question of Reagan's role in the possibly criminal diversion, according to the dissent report. But while the majority found no evidence to indicate Reagan's awareness, it noted that the committees were denied access to thousands of pertinent documents destroyed by White House aides.

The dissent belittled the majority's refusal to accept Reagan's assertions that he knew nothing of the diversion. The eight Republican authors gave credence to former national security adviser John M. Poindexter's testimony that he alone authorized the diversion in early 1986 and tried to protect the President by hiding it.

The committee chairmen, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), and Rep. Lee H. Hamilton (D-Ind.) refused to comment Wednesday on the minority criticisms.

'Too Much Politics'

After today's vote, Hatch said that although there was "a lot of good" in the majority report, it had "too much politics."

"They do not accept the incontrovertible facts that the President did not know (about the diversion)," Hatch said. "They say if he didn't know, he should have known."

Many sections of the majority and minority drafts are under review at the White House to ensure that no classified information emerges in the final versions. Once the White House completes its review, lawmakers will get several days to submit last-minute revisions, a House committee spokesman said.

While the most scathing Republican criticism was reserved for the majority report, the minority nonetheless faulted Reagan for his management, policies and failure to involve Congress in such sensitive decisions.

Still, the dissent balked at what it described as the majority's portrayal of the Administration "as a gang of lawbreakers who would do anything to achieve their object, invoking an exaggerated fear of leaks to keep the truth about activities from Congress."

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