GOP Lawmaker Wants Iran-Contra Office Closed
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The independent counsel’s office that prosecuted Oliver North and John Poindexter should be closed, a Republican member of the former House Iran- Contra investigating panel said Tuesday.
″I believe we are well past the point where further pursuit of this matter by an independent counsel serves any public good,″ Rep. William Broomfield of Michigan said in a letter to Attorney General Dick Thornburgh.
But Justice Department sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said such a move would be politically difficult for Thornburgh because it is believed Walsh is looking into the conduct of Donald Gregg, the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, in connection with the Iran-Contra affair.
Gregg was George Bush’s national security adviser when Bush was vice president and the sources said that closing down the office of Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh would look like a coverup.
Walsh has spent nearly four years and tens of millions of tax dollars investigating and prosecuting Iran-Contra cases, said Broomfield, who was a member of the House investigating panel.
Broomfield’s request comes just days after a divided federal appeals court panel set aside North’s Iran-Contra convictions, reversing one of three guilty verdicts and ordering hearings to determine whether the other two were tainted by immunized testimony North gave Congress.
Broomfield asked Thornburgh to exercise his authority under the 1987 independent counsel act to seek the termination of Walsh’s office and turn over any loose ends in his Iran-Contra investigations to the Justice Department to be tied up.
″Nobody wants to complete this work more than we do,″ Walsh said through a spokeswoman. ″We simply don’t feel that we can fail to develop the testimony of significant witnesses as they become available.″
North and Poindexter were the two highest-ranking Reagan administration officials prosecuted in the operation that sent arms to Iran and covert profits from their sale to Nicaragua’s Contra rebels.
Walsh’s investigation, which had cost $21 million through May, has led to the conviction of seven people involved in the Iran-Contra affair. The Justice Department says the investigations have cost law enforcement agencies an additional $7.7 million, for a total of $28.7 million.
Broomfield said the action on North’s case focused new attention on what he termed Walsh’s ″perpetual investigation.″
″The Iran-Contra affair has been thoroughly investigated. We’ve paid for two congressional committees, a presidential commission and an independent counsel,″ Broomfield said.
″Still, Walsh seems intent on ensconcing himself as part of the permanent bureaucracy,″ he said. ″I believe the time has come to say enough is enough.″