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Meeting Between Bush Aide, Contra Aid Figure Noted

May 15, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A review of Vice President George Bush's office records turned up a previously undisclosed meeting between a Bush aide and Felix Rodriguez, a one-time CIA operative involved in the private support network for the Nicaraguan contras, it was announced Thursday night.

A statement from the vice president's office said that Samuel J. Watson, a national security aide to Bush, had met with Rodriguez on June 25, 1986, and acknowledged that the meeting "was not indicated in our original chronology," released last Dec. 15.

"This meeting was not scheduled ahead of time and did not appear on Col. Watson's schedule, which had been consulted in preparing the original chronology," the statement said.

"It was discovered when Watson's personal notes were reviewed. The meeting was short and involved the counterinsurgency operations in El Salvador and needed helicopter parts to support it. The vice president was neither in the meeting nor aware it had taken place."

The statement also said that Bush's chief national security aide, Donald P. Gregg, "was overseas at the time and not aware of the meeting." Watson reports to Bush through Gregg.

'Comprehensive Review'

The additional meeting was revealed in what Bush's office described as "a comprehensive review" of the vice president's files and records, which was done at the request of independent counsel Lawrence E. Walsh and the joint congressional Iran-contra committee.

Bush's office also said the review "confirms that the vice president's contacts with Felix Rodriquez dealt entirely with the insurgency in El Salvador and there was no discussion, direct or indirect, on the contra aid network."

The earlier chronology showed that Rodriguez had talked often with Watson, dined with him, and had telephoned him in October, 1986, with the news that a contra supply plane was shot down in Nicaragua and that American Eugene Hasenfus had been captured by the Sandinistas. Hasenfus subsequently was released.

Iran-contra investigators from Walsh's office and the committee are looking into any connections Bush had with the private supply of weapons to the contras, including a record of involvement from start to finish by Gregg, a former CIA agent.

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