WASHINGTON — Retired Maj. Gen. Richard V. Secord arranged a secret White House meeting in September, 1986, for three Iranian officials to assure them they were dealing with the "highest echelons of U.S. government," he said Monday night on ABC's "Nightline" program.
Secord said he opened the "second channel" of Iranian contacts with the approval of Marine Lt. Col. Oliver L. North and unidentified CIA officials because former National Security Adviser Robert C. McFarlane's secret mission to Tehran in May, 1986, failed to gain the release of all American hostages in Lebanon.
"The officials were told they would meet with direct representatives of the President and they did," Secord said on "Nightline." He identified the U.S. officials as North, George Cave of the CIA and himself.
Secord said he did not reveal the meeting during his four days of public testimony last week before the congressional committees investigating the Iran- contra affair because the committees "were running short on time."