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THE IRAN--CONTRA HEARINGS : Excerpts: 'No Reason to Back Away'

May 07, 1987|From Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON Following are excerpts from testimony Wednesday by retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Richard V. Secord to the congressional committees investigating the Iran-contra affair:

Ghorbanifar Proposals

"His proposals (in November, 1985, talks) all were various sets of arms-for-hostage proposals. He was very interested in what I would characterize as U.S. high-technology weapons systems; specifically Phoenix missile systems for their F-14s, Harpoon missiles, other air intercept missiles were mentioned a few times, and TOW missiles. . . . He came up with different formulas--so many Phoenixes for so many 'boxes,' as he called them, which was his code word for hostages. . . . "He had a boilerplate kind of salesmanship patter which he put out very glibly, which talked about the strategic setting and things that he knew Americans would like to hear: The Russian threat; the Iranians were being held hostage by the hostages and themselves, and so on; they needed to move on. But it was my impression that Ghorbanifar was more interested in business than he was in foreign policy."Diversion of Funds

(In November, 1985 , Israeli arms dealer Al Schwimmer placed $1 million in (Lt. Col. Oliver L.) North's Swiss bank account to pay for flying five planeloads of missiles to Iran. However, only one load arrived before the Iranians called off the deal.)

"We spent, I think it was about $130,000 to the 707 operator and another sum of money for a leased Lear jet. So, all together less than $200,000 was expended in support of that project . . . I assumed that they (the Israelis) would ask for their money back, but they didn't.

"And I discussed this with North also, and later, I believe late December, he told me they were not going to ask for it back, and we could use it for whatever purpose we wanted. We actually expended it on the contra project. . . . So Mr. Schwimmer made a contra-bution."

(Later, in 1986, "surplus" proceeds from arms sales to Iran also were earmarked for Nicaraguan rebels at North's urging.)

". . . There was always a certain amount of tension on this subject because North wasn't running the operation. I was, along with (Secord's business partner, Albert A.) Hakim, and of course he (North) wasn't sitting around worrying about having enough money to execute it. . . . I was perfectly willing to send funds to the contra project from the surpluses, and as the bank records show, which you got from Mr. Hakim show, we did. But I was never able to send as much as Ollie North thought we should."

(Secord met in the White House in January, 1986, to review a finding, which President Reagan signed, authorizing his and the CIA's roles in the Iran venture and concealing them from Congress.)

"There was a discussion of one change (in the finding) . . . that in addition to the normal action agencies, that the government would work through third parties and third countries. And that's why I was at the meeting. I was the third party. I was to be the commercial cut-out, if you will. . . . The governments involved, Israel and the United States, could not deal directly with the government of Iran. . . .

"I did not go into this enterprise with the notion of making a profit. . . . There was no intention of profiteering. I know that some people are tossing this word around right now, and I resent it."

President Calls North

(Shortly after North resigned last Nov. 25, Secord met him in a suburban Virginia hotel.)

"There were two phone calls that came in for Col. North. One was from the President. I didn't realize it was the President until I saw him stand up at attention, as a good Marine, you know. And he said, 'Yes, Mr. President, Yes, Mr. President. Thank you very much, Mr. President.' And then he said, 'I'm just sorry it had to end this way. I was trying to serve you the best way I knew how, Mr. President.' And I said, 'Let me have the phone,' but it was too late. He hung up.

" . . . I wanted to tell the President that I'd like to see him and try to bring back some rationality into this matter. There's no reason to back away from these operations. I mean, maybe there were mistaken judgments taken in the policy. Maybe not. I happen to think that it was a good policy, and worth a try. . . .

"I have no direct first-hand knowledge about what the President knew or didn't know. As I think everyone knows, I never spoke with the President on this. I was told on a number of occasions, and I even recorded it once in a December, 1984, memo to myself, that the President was informed of my participation in the contra and later in the Iranian operations.

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