Philip Lacovara presents an intellectually seductive review of history and the law in support of his thesis that Judge Gesell was remiss in seeming to overlook the special rules that exempt members of the military from having to examine too closely the legality of orders from their commanders (“A Case of Missing Prologues,” Editorial Page, May 6). Unfortunately, Lacovara’s argument fails to take the facts of the situation into account.
North, albeit a member of the Marine Corps, did not find himself on a battlefield facing enemy fire when he so willingly set up a shadow government run from the White House basement. Neither his life nor that of anyone around him was in immediate danger when he agreed to lie to Congress. No split-second decisions were needed in taking on the Reagan-Casey mandate to subvert the Boland Amendment.
North certainly had enough time, at the outset or any other point in his zealous operations, to reflect, consult others and obtain advice as to the legality or even just the advisability of his international machinations. Lacovara has done a serious disservice in assuming that the very knotty problem of morality and ethics in wartime applies to North in Washington, D.C.