July 11, 2005

Pentagon confirms Iran-Contra figure in senior job

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Robert Earl, who destroyed national
security documents during the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal, is
working as chief of staff to acting Deputy Defense Secretary
Gordon England, the Pentagon said on Monday.

Earl destroyed and stole national security documents while
working for Lt. Col. Oliver North during a secret arms deal
with Iran in which the United States passed money from those
weapons sales to Contra guerrillas in Nicaragua, according to a
report to Congress by independent counsel Lawrence Walsh.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman confirmed Earl was a
senior England aide, a fact first reported in the Los Angeles
Times on Sunday. He added, "I wonder why it's an issue now."

"It was a long time ago," Whitman said. "He has served ably
for many years in the department and in industry."

Earl was granted immunity for his testimony in the
Iran-Contra scandal and was never prosecuted.

John Ullyot, spokesman for Senate Armed Services Committee
Chairman John Warner, said the Pentagon informed the committee
about the issue. He declined any further comment.

But congressional watchdog groups raised questions about
the administration's decision to give such a senior job to a
person with a record of tampering with the very kinds of
classified national security documents he will now oversee.

"That fact is that this is a very sensitive and critical
job," said Mary Boyle, spokewoman for Common Cause. "While it
is true that people can pay their debts to society ... this is
a job that should be filled by someone who is beyond reproach."