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EXCERPTS: 'World Is Laughing'

May 09, 1987|From Times Staff Writers

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

Spending the Surplus

(Secord, unprompted, offers a suggestion for how the "surplus" from the Iranian arms deals should be spent.)

Now, Mr. Chairman, if I may, yesterday we were discussing what would, what was to become of the funds which remain intact in the various accounts . . . . And my recommendation will be that the funds which remain, after obligations are met, be donated to the William J. Casey Fund, which has just been established for the support of the Nicaraguan Freedom Fighters.

Sen. Warren B. Rudman (R-N.H.): I want to thank Gen. Secord for his response. I would think that's a very laudable idea. But I must tell you that, in my view, you or no one else has a right to send that money anywhere. That money belongs to the people of the United States . . . .

Arms From Israel

(Sen. James A. McClure (R-Ida.) questioned Secord about other arms transactions.)

Q. Are you aware of any previous arms transactions between Israel and Iran?

A. Yes, sir. And I've often wondered why there hasn't been more focus in the press on this, because it's no secret . . . there have been very large-scale transactions from European countries and from Israel to Iran--shiploads, many, many shiploads of armaments have been going to Iran . . . . The Iranians have been buying these things all over the world. But Israel has also been in there in fairly large scale.

Congress' Role

When I dealt with the CIA in my earlier years, there were no such acts (as those that now require disclosure of covert operations to Congress). Given the political circumstances that exist in our country today, I understand the necessity for the President to notify Congress . . . .

With respect to Iran, hindsight is wonderful, but it seems to me that there was a big political error on the part of the President not to at least notify the eight men (the congressional leadership), which he could have opted to do. I think that would have been--made the Congress, like it or not, a partner in the venture--and I think it would have been much wiser for him to do that, especially since we were dealing with foreigners. I don't think that we would have had to worry so much about the security of the eight men.

. . . What I have a problem with is the continual assumption in this country that covert operations are wrong. I mean, this is a dangerous world we live in today, and sometimes the President, who has the responsibility for the security of this nation largely, in my opinion, has to have this tool available . . . . In my opinion, the whole world is laughing at us. We've heard a lot of talk about the cleansing effect of these kinds of hearings. I don't share that belief at all . . . what I think it does is open up our guts to the rest of the world. They not only don't trust us like they used to, they also laugh at us.

Boland Amendment

( Rep. Edward P. Boland (D-Mass.) questioned Secord about his interpretation of the legislative provision barring U.S. intelligence agencies from aiding the contras, legislation that bears Boland's name.)

Q. Do you have any confusion at all with the words that I just read with respect to the Boland Amendment?

A. I understand the words, Mr. Boland, but it also tells me that private funding is legal.

Q. Are you aware of any legal challenge to the Boland Amendment?

A. No, sir, I have to leave that to the government lawyers.

Q. That if there hasn't been a legal challenge to it, does the law stand as it is, as the law?

A. As far as I'm concerned, it does.

Q. In your judgment, was there a violation of that amendment?

A. No, sir, but I'm not a lawyer . . . . I'm aware that a number of people hold a number of different opinions on this.

Q. Isn't the law the law until it's challenged, until it's changed by Congress or until there is an interpretation by the Supreme Court . . . . ?

A. Yes, sir, (but) Boland says nothing about private funds.

A Different World

(Sen. Paul S. Trible Jr. (R-Va.) explained his view of Secord's activities.)

Q. I guess the purpose of this line of questioning is to just to raise once again, general, the fact that you're living in a world very different from the one inhabited by any of us. You're dealing in the world of foreign bank accounts, investments, ever-changing partnerships and big dollars, big dollars that you can't really explain where they come from, who provided them, or really the purpose to which they be directed.

A. I don't agree with that.

Q. Well, I understand that, and the record will speak for itself, and that was the point of raising the questions . . . . General, you've been a very effective witness . . . . I'm convinced that you're a man who loves his country, and I'm convinced that you are a man who has sought to advance the interests of this country as you see fit. But there are some deeply troubling aspects to your testimony . . . . Money, secret bank accounts, dealing with very, very dark figures, millions and millions of dollars . . . . Suffice it to say that your testimony about the dollars and the bank accounts and the characters that you've been working with is deeply troubling.

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