A case for Congress

April 17, 1991

On the Other Voices page today we carry an article which has created a sensation -- the disclosure, first published on Monday in the New York Times, of a pattern of events suggesting that Reagan-Bush campaign operatives in 1980 cut a cynical deal with the Iranians to secretly supply weapons to the Tehran regime if the 52 American hostages then being held were not released until after the presidential election.

The author, a highly respected figure in national security matters who began his service in the White House during the Ford presidency, does not claim he has found a "smoking gun," but the circumstantial evidence is substantial -- especially when added to the unequivocal assertion of Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, the Iranian prime minister during most of the 1979-80 hostage crisis who now lives in exile in Paris -- that such a deal was made.

These allegations are not just Kitty Kelley-style titillation. They involve the national honor, the lives of innocent Americans and quite likely violations of the criminal law as well. Some of the allegations point to direct involvement by George Bush, who was then a candidate for vice president.

Clearly this is a case for Congress to investigate. There is at least enough circumstantial evidence to cast a serious shadow over the Reagan and Bush administrations. If there is solid evidence to support the allegations, then it should be forthcoming. If there is not, then Bush and Reagan deserve to have their names cleared.

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