Document 189228

K —
3"nAv.. ,
How to
nurture a
ast week, The Washington
Post and The New York
Times finally reported
^ what the readers of TheDe-
p-oit News first found out nearly a
month ago: the so-called "Boland
Amendment" hasn't really existed
as a serious issue since November
1985. Ergo, most of the basis for a
"scandal" involving illegal military
aid to the "contras" doesn't exist.
On Dec. 28, in a lengthy editorial
under the heading "What Boland
Amendment?" The Detroit News re
ported the apparently little-known
fact that on Nov. 14,1985,long before
any alleged diversion of Iran arm
sales funds to the "contras," the Con
gress substantially removed most of
that amendment's tough restraints
on military aid to the "contras"
fighting in Nicaragua.
On that date, in a move apparently
not ail that well understood by most
members, Congress used the fiscal
year 1986 InteUigence Authorization
Act (H.R.2419), Section 105, to put
the CIA officially back in the busi
ness of supplying small but serious
amounts of direct military (but nonlethal) aid to the "contras.^' This se
cret direct aid, all of it itemized in
the fully "classified" CIA budget, in
volves "infrastructure expenditures
and communications equipment..
and "intelligence reprogrammings."
The effect of this new law was not
only to permit and broaden the
range of potential CIA aid to the
"contras," buttoput Congress, itself,
squarely into the audit and oversight
iimce January 1986, House and
SenateIntelligence Committee staff
have notonly participated inseveral
extensive top-secret CIA briefings
on the nature of this new regime of
aid to the "contras," but have been
frequentvisitors for"auditandover
sight" to the much-scandaJized Ilo
Pango Air Base in Ef Salvador,
through wluch most ofthe tranship
ments of aid (publicand private) to
tfie "contras" have passed, includmcidentally, theallegedly illegal •
flight of Eugene Hasenfus.
According to administration
sources, since January 1986 41
members and staff ofthe Congress
including House Foreign Affairs
Chmrman Dante Fascell, have been
tt) Ilo P^go compared with only 30
such visits by administration oersonnel.
As one former Senate Intelligence
Committee staffattorney, David Ad- '
^gton, an expert on the Boland
Amendment's evolution, (now an :
aide to Foreign Affairs rankin" mi
nority member Congressman°WilRepublican of
told T/jeiVewsr
a watershed
of change
the :•
Boland Amendment, reflecting a
considerable evolution of views '
FnmfastlE^ •
high •dminiiirtfioa foaice tigo
r t'
:' After aewenl days of iowesti^'
vckm, JPosi star itp(^ct«r Pob .Wc^t >
<ward confirmedit9.9ss»ti4
lAaio^. t)ieJegality of.some,diif^ 'i
the PosfoLlead story-'oiu(^nu
14.. ••
: •
But instead of featuring this vital
fimdingi The Post decid^ to trea(
this as yet another revelation in the
ongoing scandal In its lead,ThePost
reported almost breathlessly: '♦On
Jan. 9, 1986, President Rea^ai}
; si^ed a top secret intelligence or
der authorizing the CIA to provide
. intelligence advice, training, and
communications equipment to the
'contras' fighting the government .of
Nicaragua, according toadmini^^a'
^ and congressionalsources.!;^ • !
The article went on to say, The
CIA moved quickly toci^'Out^ the
finding because it proyid^ an op
portunity to help the 'contras' wit^i
critical aid at a time Congress h^d
prohibited milita^ assistance tqthe
rebds in their fight against Nic
aragua's Sandinista regime." By thip
time the average reader is 'cqn-
vinced.that Mr. Reagan has bj^h
caught red-handed doing something
illegal-But in the next paragrapl^
the Post revealed that "intelligence
and communications aid... wa^expUcitly permitted by Congress in
legislative compromises made io
late 1985." That's a reversal of'the
prior pararaph's mislea^^ng
statement about "military aid."^;' /
.In spite of this, Hrst The Post,imd
then NBC's James Polk who followed
up on the story that evening, and fi
nally The New York Times on the
ISth, continued to try to pr^ent this
story as if it were evidence of .thb
administration's alleged culpabiUty.
. In fairness to The Times, itiwais
badly misled by the State Depart
ment which had also appare;ntly
failed to comprehend the signifi
cance of the Nov. 14, 1985 Bo^d
revision. In a StateDepartment in
ternal memo to Eliott Abramsf,
acquired by The Times: the staff
writer incorrectly quotes Section
105 of the FY 1986 Defense Intel
ligence Act as saying "No funds
availableto the Central Intelligence
Agency... may be obligated and-ex-
pend^ ..when, in fact the xeal
wording does not include the word
"No." .
•.•• i:-;;
As a result, The Times'stitl m^-
aged to massage this storyof a per
fectlylegalactionbythe CIAintothe
appearance of illegality ~ som^
th^ which NBC's James Polk Msb
triedtodoontheevening ofthe14tl),
even going to the ludicrous extent
ofasking Sand^ta apok)gist,-for
mer Democratic Congressman'^i-
chael..B^es of Maryland, to 'give
his opinion that"Congress never ii)tend^ thisact toallow theadminis
tration to do what itdid.''
' Mn Polk failed to point out that
Barnes was not even a'member
>f the House Select Committee on
Atelligence that wrote the 1^8^
k)land revisions, and heis unlil^ly
0 have known what was "intended;*
"This*whole episode is yet a'.aitither reminder that too often the naional press is so determined to make
ts "scandal" stick, it is prepared tb