The judge at Oliver North's Iran-Contra trial selected four more people as prospective jurors Friday, including one who said she doesn't pay attention to news because it's "depressing" and thinks the controversy over North is "boring."
The woman, a secretary to a hospital director, said her mother, who lives with her, pays such close attention to current events that "I call her `news media.' "When her mother approaches her about the news, "I always tell her to get out of my room. I don't want to hear it," said the woman.
She acknowledged she had been aware from other people, but said she paid no attention to, North's congressional testimony in 1987 in which he detailed many of the activities for which he is now accused of crimes.
U.S. District Judge Gerhard A. Gesell qualified her for the jury pool over the objections of North attorney Barry Simon, who said the woman "was bombarded at a minimum" with references to North.
Gesell also selected a military personnel clerk for the pool, to which 29 people have been sent since the trial opened Tuesday. He hopes to build it to 50 before selecting a jury.
Three people were rejected for the pool, including a businesswoman who said North was involved in "money and arms . . . on an international scale." She said she knew that North had "a boss named Poindexter" and "he had a blond secretary," a reference to Fawn Hall, who has been granted immunity from prosecution by the government in exchange for her testimony.
The businesswoman, who has a master's degree, said she didn't watch the 1987 congressional hearings because she was starting a business and working 14 hours a day.
On Thursday, Gesell said that "security gurus" from the CIA and other intelligence agencies won't be permitted to disrupt North's trial.
Gesell responded angrily to a request that courtroom seats be reserved for intelligence experts from the Justice Department and agencies including the CIA, Defense Department, State Department, the National Security Agency and possibly others.
Gesell agreed to set up four seats for the intelligence community but said he is "very concerned about their function."
"I do not intend to have this case run by two or three security gurus sitting in the audience," said Gesell. "I don't want to be in a position where every time a document flashes by you go to these people who check with their department."
The NSA is worried that government secrets will be disclosed in the courtroom, even though the two central charges against North were dropped Jan. 13 due to national security considerations. The 12 charges that remain generally accuse the former National Security Council aide of attempts to cover up his activities in the Iran-Contra affair - activities which in many cases have since been made public.