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Ex-Sen. Tower Will Probe NSC : Reagan Also Puts Scowcroft, Muskie on Iran Inquiry

November 26, 1986|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Reagan today appointed former Sen. John Tower, former Secretary of State Edmund S. Muskie and one-time national security adviser Brent Scowcroft to a special board that will investigate the activities of the White House National Security Council staff in the secret sale of U.S. arms to Iran.

Tower, a conservative Republican from Texas who most recently served as a U.S. arms negotiator in Geneva, was picked as chairman of the three-man panel.

The NSC was rocked Tuesday by the resignation of its chief, Vice Adm. John M. Poindexter, and by the firing of one of his chief deputies, Lt. Col. Oliver L. North, in the aftermath of the disclosure that up to $30 million from the arms sale was secretly funneled to contra rebels battling the leftist government of Nicaragua. (Stories, Page 4.)

Reagan ignored shouted questions from reporters today in the Rose Garden during a ceremony to receive a Thanksgiving turkey.

'Comprehensive Study'

The President said in a statement that the review board is charged with conducting "a comprehensive study of the future role and procedures of the National Security Council staff in the development, coordination, oversight and conduct of foreign and national security policy.

"In particular, I have asked the board to review the NSC staff's proper role in operational activities, especially extremely sensitive diplomatic, military and intelligence missions," the President said.

A White House spokesman, Dan Howard, said presidential Chief of Staff Donald T. Regan will meet with the commission Monday to discuss the inquiry and how long it may take for the members to complete their work.

Howard said a presidential order expected next week will give the panel "carte blanche to talk to anyone, to look at anything they need to look at."

Left Arms Post in March

Tower, who served in the Senate from 1961 until 1985, was a strong supporter of Reagan's military buildup and has often been mentioned for high-level Administration jobs. He left the arms negotiator's job last March after a little more than a year.

Muskie was a Democratic senator from Maine from 1959 until May, 1980, when he resigned to become secretary of state during the final eight months of Jimmy Carter's embattled presidency, which was then consumed by the Iran hostage crisis.

Scowcroft, an Air Force retired lieutenant general, served as national security adviser to President Gerald R. Ford from 1975 until 1977. He currently is associated with former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger in a consulting firm known as Kissinger Associates Inc.

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