Walsh, the former independent counsel for Iran/Contra matters, submits an injudicious, self-serving brief in aid of...

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FIREWALL: The Iran-Contra Conspiracy and Cover-Up

Walsh, the former independent counsel for Iran/Contra matters, submits an injudicious, self-serving brief in aid of reversing the probable verdict of history that his extended and contentious investigation of malfeasance at the highest levels of US government produced appreciably more heat than light. Drawing on the record he compiled in the course of a six-year investigation, the author delivers a largely chronological narrative built around a rehash of serious charges that were never proved in court. At issue was the question of whether Ronald Reagan exceeded his presidential authority in sanctioning a hushed-up arms-for-hostages deal with Iran, which also yielded cash used to equip the Contra forces in Nicaragua. These clandestine operations came to light in the mid-1980s, and Walsh was called in to unravel the tangled web at the start of 1987. By the author's account, he had no axes to grind at the outset of his inquiry. Perhaps not, but his office became vaultingly ambitious in its selection of targets after failing to put the usual CIA, National Security Council, or White House suspects, let alone Oliver North and John Poindexter, behind bars. At various times, Walsh recounts, he and his aides went after George Bush, Edwin Meese, Donald Regan, George Shultz, and Caspar Weinberger. The fact that he got nary a one of these men in the clock does not stop the author from repeating in detail allegations of supposed misdeeds that resulted in but a single indictment. Attentive readers will learn that feckless subordinates, ill-informed judges, and national-security hurdles, not Walsh, are to blame for the paucity of scalps. A spirited if one-sided effort by Walsh to have the last word on the Iran/Contra affair and to justify his largely unavailing stewardship of the independent counsel's office.

Pub Date: June 1, 1997

ISBN: 0393318605

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1997