Let Jurors See Secrets, Walsh Says
The special counsel in the Iran-Contra case offered a new suggestion Friday on how sensitive documents might be introduced at the trial of former Lt. Col. Oliver L. North without compromising national secrets, a matter that has become a key issue in the case.
In papers filed with U.S. District Judge Gerhard A. Gesell, independent counsel Lawrence E. Walsh proposed that jurors be shown uncensored documents while the press and public are given the same documents with sensitive parts censored or paraphrased.
Walsh made the suggestion as Gesell completed his fifth day in closed session with prosecutors and defense attorneys on how national security needs might be balanced against a fair trial for North and his co-defendants in the arms-for-hostages case.
North, the fired National Security Council aide, and three associates are to be tried separately on charges that they illegally diverted profits from Iranian arms sales in 1985-86 to furnish weapons to rebel forces in Nicaragua.
Gesell took Walsh’s suggestion under advisement and is expected to rule next week on North’s objections to proposed deletions in sensitive documents that Walsh plans to introduce at trial.
Walsh said the two-level procedure of disclosure has been used in at least two previous criminal cases in which classified government documents were involved.