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August 20, 2005

The Iran Emergency in Box 29

I volunteered to Adopt a Box O Docs - Documents released by the Reagan Library concerning John Roberts' years in the White House Counsel's office. The program is organized by Hugh Hewitt & Generalissimo Duane.

My Assignment: Box 29 - Iran Emergency

Bottom Line: There's really nothing here that can hurt Roberts. He penned a few memos that basically passed along White House Counsel's legal OK on a report to Congress and an accompanying notice. If the Left accuses Roberts of not caring about commas, underlining, or basic math, then we can counter with these memos, otherwise there's not much to say.

The documents as a whole are interesting nonetheless, and so here is my full report:
The main document in this box is titled "National Emergency With Respect to Iran" or also "The Semi-Annual Report to Congress on Iran Emergency."

The report is included 3 different times, first on what looks like internal White House stationary (p.7-11), second in two-column format with the header "Administration of Ronald Reagan 1985/Apr 22" (p.12-14) and third on paper with the headline "THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary" (p.21-24).
Preceding the report is a notice, extending the state of emergency with Iran.

There are two memos to the President from Secretary of the Treasury James Baker. The first (p.6) advises the President that he must make this report to congress. The second (p.18) advises him that he must publish the notice in the Federal Register in order to be sure that the Nov 14, 1979 "declaration of national emergency with respect to Iran" not be allowed to expire on Nov 14, 1985. Sec Baker warns:

If the Iran emergency were allowed to lapse, the Government would be limited to existing measures regarding Iran. This could prevent you from taking steps necessary to implement the January 1981 agreements with Iran, from effectuating new settlements with Iran, or from protecting the interests of U.S. nationals with claims against Iran. It could also impair the Government's position in litigation involving Iran.

Who knew that seemingly insignificant small pieces of paper like a "notice" could be so important in the Government's foreign policy. I guess I just wonder whether James Baker was really concerned about the lapse or whether his memo was a matter of protocol.

The report itself discusses the trials going on at the tribunal and the various ways claims were decided one way or another. There were claims by individuals and organizations and various Government departments were also involved including Justice, Treasury and State concerning the Algiers Accords.

Either way, the report came from the White House and was given the Ok by Roberts and the Counsel's office, not the other way around.

Roberts himself wrote three memos for Staff Secretary David Chew.

1. November 12, 1985 (p.2) Roberts relays information from Treasury and State about stats in the report concerning the number of claimants and confirms a proposed change in language - moving from the date the Congress passed a bill (July 31) to the date the President signed it (Aug 16). These corrections were made by the final version of the report in this box on pages 21-24.

2. November 6, 1985 (p.3) This memo was obviously written first. It confirms Counsel's review of the report and request some changes. One involved a total number of small claimants. This change was not reflected in any version of the report. The other was the above stated change regarding the dates on the bill. Roberts states that the "legally significant date is the date the President signed the bill into law."

3. October 30, 1985 (p.15) This earliest memo concerns the notice of extending the Iran Emergency. Roberts stated that Counsel found "no objection from a legal perspective" but proposes some changes to punctuation "[s]oley in the interests of stylistic conformity with last year's notice." It's all about the commas and the underlining.

The final version of the report was released on November 13, 1985.

Posted by Abigail at August 20, 2005 02:30 PM

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