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Iran Arms Deal 'Unprincipled,' Democrats Say

November 23, 1986|DON IRWIN | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — A spokesman for congressional Democrats charged Saturday that "our anti-terrorism policy is now in shambles" because of President Reagan's "unwise and unprincipled" approval of arms deals with the revolutionary government of Iran.

"In taking these actions, the President broke the law, he broke faith with our friends and allies around the world and he broke his word to the American people," said California Rep. Anthony C. Beilenson (D-Los Angeles), a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

At almost the same time, the executive committee of the Democratic National Committee unanimously approved a resolution declaring that, as a result of the Iranian arms transactions, "our position in the world has been weakened, our credibility on the issue of terrorism is now virtually non-existent, and other American lives have been put at risk.

"The Democratic National Committee expresses its outrage at the duplicity and apparently illegal actions of this Administration," said the resolution, which will come before the full committee today for anticipated approval.

Beilenson's comments were broadcast in time reserved for the Democrats to reply to the President's weekly five-minute radio talk, but they were in no way a response. Reagan's remarks, a Thanksgiving message urging more Americans to volunteer to help their neighbors, made no reference to the Iranian policy dispute.

Beilenson contended that the President violated a statute requiring him to inform the intelligence committees of both houses of Congress about covert operations before the operations begin, or--if secrecy is essential--at least to notify the bipartisan leadership of the House and Senate and of the two intelligence committees.

Reagan should have trusted these eight senior members, Beilenson said, not only because they can and do keep "the nation's most important secrets," but also because congressional advice "gives the President something he doesn't get within the closed confines of the White House--some outside opinions that may help him avoid making terrible blunders like this one."

Instead, Beilenson asserted, "the President got bad advice from a small group of White House staff who appeared to know little about foreign relations and even less about dealing squarely and openly with the American people."

Times staff writer Robert Shogan contributed to this story.

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