WASHINGTON — The congressional Iran-Contra committees conclude in their final report that President Reagan failed in his duty to see that the law was obeyed, but minority Republicans today dismissed the document as partisan and containing "hysterical conclusions."
The committees' final report, due Wednesday, paraphrases the Constitution in saying that Reagan failed to "see that the laws are faithfully executed," according to a Senate committee source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
There was sharp debate among committee members about whether to include such criticism in the final report. Ultimately that language was left in the final document, although other criticism of Reagan was softened substantially, the source said.
Four Months of Hearings
The House and Senate committees conducted four months of joint hearings into the Administration's secret weapons sales to Iran and diversion of profits from those sales to the Nicaraguan Contra rebels.
The panels' report says there is no evidence that Reagan knew of the diversion. But it says President Reagan flirted with constitutional crisis by creating a White House atmosphere that encouraged evasion of legal requirements and flouting of proper procedures for reaching foreign policy goals.
And it is sharply critical of Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III, questioning why he delayed launching a criminal investigation of the affair when it became public a year ago.
The Senate committee source did not specify which laws the President is accused of not adequately enforcing. But during hearings the committee often discussed three laws.
They were the Boland amendment, which over specified periods prohibited direct or indirect U.S. aid to the Contras; the arms export control act that restricts the sale of American arms abroad, and laws requiring that any funds spent by the government first be appropriated by Congress.
Eight minority Republicans on the Iran-Contra committees sharply objected to the final report. They said in a dissent that the majority reached "hysterical conclusions," according to a 28-page summary of the minority report released today.
The majority, "having failed to find the evidence of an impeachable offense which many of its members sought, has now, regrettably, come forward with a partisan indictment of this President and his Administration," the GOP members said in a critique.
'Mistakes in Judgment'
The minority report says errors made by the Reagan Administration in the Iran-Contra affair were "mistakes in judgment and nothing more," and that there was "no constitutional crisis, no systematic disrespect for the rule of law, no grand conspiracy and no Administration-wide dishonesty or cover-up."
The dissenting document was signed by all six Republicans on the House committee--Reps. Dick Cheney of Wyoming, William S. Broomfield of Michigan, Henry Hyde of Illinois, Jim Courter of New Jersey, Bill McCollum of Florida and Michael DeWine of Ohio--and two Senate Republicans, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and James A. McClure of Idaho.
The final report was to have been issued today, but last-minute checking of nearly 1,000 footnotes delayed release, the committees said.
Republican Broomfield said the possibility cannot be ruled out that some former Reagan Administration officials may have violated the law in the Iran-Contra scandal.
"We should not understate the range of potential improprieties and illegalities committed by" the late CIA Director William J. Casey, former national security adviser John M. Poindexter and fired White House aide Oliver L. North, "as well as certain other governmental officials," he said.