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'A Likely Story' in Nicaragua

October 17, 1986

Congress should heed your excellent editorial advice (Oct. 9), "A Likely Story." Final congressional approval of the $100 million in contra aid voted last August should be delayed until the Reagan administration truthfully answers the many questions raised by the shooting down inside Nicaragua of the American transport aircraft carrying weapons to the contras.

The Reagan Administration and the CIA have adamantly denied any involvement with the flight that ended in wreckage on Nicaraguan soil, leaving two Americans and one Nicaraguan contra dead, and another American captured and facing possible trial. Yet mounting evidence suggests that the White House and the CIA are both heavily involved in the right-wing private supply network that has been providing the weapons used by the contras to slaughter innocent civilians in Nicaragua.

The credibility of the Reagan Administration, which is very much at issue here, has already been seriously undermined by its recently exposed "disinformation" campaign directed against the Libyan government. The Administration lied to the press and the American public when it falsely claimed that there was growing evidence of new terrorist attacks being planned in Libya, and that the United States was on a "collision course" with that country.

We also remember well how Reagan's secretary of defense, Caspar W. Weinberger, falsely told the American people in 1984 that the CIA was not involved in the mining of the harbors in Nicaragua, the act of U.S. aggression that prompted the Nicaraguan government to bring its successful lawsuit against our government in the World Court.

President Nixon's waning credibility was dealt the coup de grace by the exposure of his involvement in the Watergate scandal cover-up. President Reagan risks a similar fate if he is caught in a cover-up of his Administration's alleged role in running guns to the contras in violation of U.S. and international law.

Will we soon be hearing familiar-sounding jokes targeted at Reagan, like "Would you buy a used military transport plane from this man?"

The allegations of wrongdoing, however, are no joke. The Times has reported (Oct. 11) that several U.S. officials and contra sources claim that President Reagan and Vice President Bush (a former CIA director, by the way) directed aides to help organize the private aid network that has been sending arms to the contras, but with instructions to do it in a way that would insulate the Administration from any direct responsibility.

These allegations, if proven to be true, would establish that President Reagan has violated the laws he has solemnly sworn to faithfully uphold and enforce, and would thus constitute grounds for his impeachment, which has already been called for by Ramsey Clark, former attorney general of the United States.

WILLIAM BOTHAMLEY

San Diego

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