In a Letter to the Editor of the Washington Times today, Tony Dolan (an old friend, former chief speechwriter to President Regan, now a special advisor to Rumsfeld) challenges the claim made by Arnaud de Borchgrave in a column Tuesday that Reagan and CIA Director Bill Casey “played down the Soviet link” to the 1981 assassination attempt on the pope.
Dolan says quite the opposite was the case. In fact, Tony writes:
“President Reagan over some internal objections and at a particularly sensitive time in US-USSR relations went out of his way to publicly raise the issue in a Feb 18, 1983 Washington address. He spoke directly to the claim the Untied States was nervous about an investigation that might turn up Bulgarian -Soviet connection.”
Reagan said: “Now, it would be also unconscionable during any discussion of the need for candor in our foreign policy not to mention here the tragic event that last year shocked the world — the attack on His Holiness, Pope John Paul II — an act of unspeakable evil, an assault on man and God. It was an international outrage and merits the fullest possible investigation. Tonight, I want to take this opportunity to applaud the courage and resourcefulness of the Government of Italy in bringing this matter to the attention of the world. And, contrary to what some have suggested, you can depend on it, there is no one on our side that is acting embarrassed or feeling embarrassed because they’re going ahead with that investigation. We mean to help them. “
Tony adds that he recalls “the last two sentences here were an ad-lib and meant to stress Reagan’s determination to see the matter pursued. Incidentally, this caused just the sort of diplomatic stir Reagan was warned against.”
The rest of Tony’s letter is worth reading (though it doesn’t appear to be on-line yet). It’s important that the record be straight on this kind of question.