Amadeusz Juskowiak

Report could be final blow for regan

The Tower Commissions scathing
comments on President Reagans embattled chief of staff Donald Regan could signal the death knell to his White House tenure but the impact of its strong criticism on two other top officials was less clear

Regan has come in for tough criticism for his handling of Reagans worst political crisis since details of the covert arms sales to Iran and diversion of profits to Nicaraguan rebels first emerged last November

But criticism of the roles of Secretary of State George Shultz and Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger who said they opposed the Iran arms initiative yet failed to end it had been muted until the release of the Tower Commission report

Their obligation was to give the president their full support and continued advice with respect to the program or if they could not in conscience do that to so inform the president the report said after a threemonth probe

Instead they simply distanced themselves from the program They protected the record as to their own positions on this issue They were not energetic in attempting to protect the president from the consequences of his personal commitment to freeing the hostages

The report saved some of its most scathing language for Regan a gruff former Wall Street executive and close personal friend of Reagan whose autocratic rule in the White House angered some top Reagan officials and perhaps more importantly Reagans wife Nancy

More than almost any chief of staff of recent memory he asserted personal control over the White House staff and sought to extend this control to the national security adviser said the report

Washington analysts said Regans departure now appeared to be only a matter of timing Many expected the president to announce it when he addresses the nation on the Tower Commissions findings next week

With Regans departure apparently imminent and Poindexter and other key figures in the scandal already out of office the reports tough criticism of Shultz and Weinberger could turn the spotlight on their future

Senate Republican leader Robert Dole a key Reagan ally told reporters the report disclosed colossal blunders and said people who had not served the president well should step aside but he did not specify who should go

It would seem to me that if you dont protect the president you dont serve the president well then you should move on the Kansas Republican a likely presidential candidate next year said

One Republican strategist said he believed Regan would not be the only White House official to leave in the near future