It’s time for Reagan to open Iranian file

President Reagan had a golden opportunity Tuesday to be honest with the nation about what went on concerning the Iran-contra affair. But with the help of several rounds of applause and a few fancy phrases used to ignite the nation’s patriotism, the president was able to sidestep the issue—again.

In a speech that lasted nearly 45 minutes, the president spent only one minute and 30 seconds discussing the most disturbing American political occurrence since Watergate. And in his brief mention of the scandal, Reagan said nothing to shed any further light on the still-shady issue.

Unfortunately, there are probably many people out there who were once again taken in by the president’s overwhelming charisma and a well-written speech—enough so that they might believe the Iran-contra affair is now a moot point.

That’s a problem. The scandal has not disappeared just because Reagan admitted serious mistakes were made in carrying out the policy. Nor will it go away solely because he said he assumes full responsibility for those mistakes.

The president’s rationale in saying that we must not refuse to take risks in the future because of mistakes we made in the past sounds sensible, but he neglected to suggest specific ways to prevent such mistakes.

eagan said he will get to the bottom of the matter and take whatever action is called for to do so. That’s not enough. In getting to the bottom, the president must also remember the interests of the American public, and its right to know what is uncovered with each turn of the path.

The situation has evolved so far that the president has no choice other than to tell us how he plans on investigating the affair. He can no longer walk past reporters without answering their questions. Each new bit of information learned by the president should immediately become public record.

It has been suggested Reagan was unaware of what his advisers in the National Security Council were doing when they shipped the arms. Perhaps he didn’t. But you can be quite sure that he has the inside story by now. That makes it all the more imperative for him to lay it on the line as soon as possible.

The problem is, Tuesday night on national TV was as soon as possible.

In closing, the president said, “America isn’t finished; her best days have just begun.” Regretfully, her best days cannot begin until this nightmare is over.