Document Type: 
Document Number (FOIA) /ESDN (CREST): 
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Document Creation Date: 
December 23, 2016
Document Release Date: 
May 21, 2013
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Publication Date: 
March 3, 1987
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Declassified and Approved For Release 2013/05/21 : CIA-RDP99-01448R000301290047-3 3 March 1987 A Moment's Peace n the old days, when Howard H. Baker slated for secretary of state in ' Baker Jr. spoke at the White House the Dole administration. It's blue skies as Senate majority leader, he had to from now on. The Tower commission, please 55 Republicans. The outer they tell themselves, has done its worst; branches of his flock, Lowell P. Weicker independent counsel Lawrence E. Jr. (R-Conn.) and Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), Walsh and the two congressional were never satisfied, but the center committees will be dispensing was. anticlimax. Now, as White House chief of staff, It is springtime until they think about he has a constituency of one-er, make the second half of the commission's that two. Nancy Reagan has established report, and then the biting winds begin herself as the steel in the Oval Office. to blow. The first half, which is about When her husband blanched at firing the Iranian arms deal, is awkward, but Donald T. Regan, she said to him in not basically unmanageable. Sure, effect, as Lady Macbeth to her lord, everyone agrees, it was mad even to "Oh, infirm of purpose, give me the think about selling arms to the daggers." When Regan was at length ayatollah, but at least there was a dispatched, the First Lady crowed in a commendable human motive. Everyone public statement. knows that the Gipper is a soft touch Baker, a small and exceptionally for a hard-luck story, and who's going pleasant man, when asked at his first to stay mad at him for wanting to spring press briefing whether he had conferred the hostages at any cost? The appeals of with Nancy Reagan, laughed: "I intend the families tore him up. to, later today." At the sound of a But the diversion of the arms profits nearby ringing, he chuckled, "And there to the contras is another chilling story. is the phone now." The money belonged to the U.S. Republicans, in despair over the loss Treasury; not to Lt. Col. Oliver L. of Ronald Reagan's magic, hail the North, who saw to its disbursement. It advent of Baker as nothing less than a was a violation of the law to send lethal miracle. Their mood changed as aid to the contras. dramatically as the weather over the The president can say he knew weekend. The raw cold of winter gave nothing about it. And he has. The way to a day of dazzling sunshine and Tower commission, without the power soft breezes; even the endless Sunday of the subpoena or the grand jury, talk-show discussion of the Tower without the testimony of the two commission report could not dampen principals, could not begin to trace the the wild hopes brought by Baker's money, most of which disappeared. arrival. The president, they said, had . The Tower commission really did not been "scared straight" by its go into it, and would have come up deferentially stated findings. empty except that a young computer With Baker, the Republicans know genius on its staff discovered buried that communication had been restored treasure-the messages that to the White House along with humor Poindexter and North, indefatigable and reason. Their calls would be correspondents both, sent each other returned, their advice respectfully on their terminals. heard. When Regan left, so did all the North was not the free-booter of bad trips of the last two initial White House issue.,He was a years-Bitburg, Reykjavik, Iran. docile subordinate, reporting his every Gone is high-handedness, scorn, move to his superior, Poindexter. The braggadocio. Baker, from the hard swashbuckler followed the rules of the school of the Senate, is used to service while breaking the law of the dissenting opinions, conflicting egos, land. He reported to Poindexter. And collapsing agreements. His patience in Poindexter reported to whom? the face of snags, delays, tantrums, is North, in the most radioactive legendary. paragraph in the Tower commission His first day in his new place of report, writes, "The president obviously business r6 og t a disappointment. The knows why he had been meeting with withdrawal o o rt Gates as t e several select people to thank them for new =rector was arranged witho their support for democracy in mu- L.%mt. The hope of announcing CentAm." another candidate fell When the music occasioned by his through-explaining three arrival stops, Baker may find himself postponements of his first briefing. spending much of his time trying to Republicans see the miracle man answer the question he made immortal guiding the party back into the sunlight, during his service on the Watergate Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) emerging as committee: "What did the president the consensus presidential nominee, know, and when did he know it?" Declassified and Approved For Release 2013/05/21 CIA-RDP99-01448R000301290047-3