National Secrets

"Doonesbury" cartoonist Garry Trudeau is having a hard time in the Reagan era. Reality keeps outstripping his wildest flights of satire. By the time Trudeau wrapped up a series depicting the late CIA director William Casey's posthumous sojourn among the undead in Haiti, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward (the one played by Robert Redford in All the President's Men) was going public with an equally shadowy tale of receiving Casey's deathbed confession to all counts in the Iran-contra scandal. The plot thickened with denials from Casey's widow and his Secret Service guards that Woodward ever made it to Casey's hospital room.

The echoes grew more ghostly with the entry of Charles Colson, a rehabilitated veteran of Washington scandals past. By coincidence, Colson happened also to be a patient in Georgetown Hospital during Casey's last days. In the Post letters column, Colson weighed in with the assertion that hospital security officials told him of Woodward's failed attempt to visit Casey. Furthermore, Colson says he visited his fellow patient during the period in question and found him unable to speak a word. The answer to this puzzle, as with so much else about the Reagan administration, was apparently interred with Casey's bones.

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