Excerpts: 'Well, They Didn't Have to Do a One-Two Punch With Me'

May 22, 1987|From Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON Following are excerpts from the testimony Thursday of William O'Boyle and Ellen St. John Garwood before the Senate and House committees investigating the Iran-contra affair. O'Boyle, of New York, and Garwood, of Austin, Tex., made large contributions to the Nicaraguan rebels after receiving briefings from National Security Council aide Oliver L. North and pleas for donations from conservative fund-raiser Carl R. (Spitz) Channell. Channell's tax-exempt National Endowment for the Preservation of Liberty helped subsidize the contra effort:

Discussion With Channell

(O'Boyle was asked to describe a reception he attended with Channell at the Hays-Adams Hotel in Washington in March, 1986.)

Question: Did you have any discussion with Mr. Channell that evening?

Answer: Yes. After dinner he indicated that he heard I was willing to make an especially large contribution with the idea of possibly supplying weapons. . . . He said that there was a small group of people in the United States that the President relied on to make that kind of contribution; that this was a cause that was very dear to the President's heart. And he thought that perhaps I might be interested in joining this group of people.

(O'Boyle met Channell the next morning before a breakfast scheduled with North.)

Q: What did Mr. Channell say to you in this preliminary encounter?

A: Well, it was either in this preliminary encounter, or it may have been the evening before . . . but he said that if one were to give approximately $300,000 or more, the President would actually meet with the contributor and thank him personally, spend 15 or so minutes with him in an off-the-record kind of meeting and thank him for the contribution that he was making to the national security.

Q: What did Mr. Channell say after Col. North arrived?

A: Well, he introduced me as someone who was willing to provide money for weapons.

Q: What did Col. North say in response to this?

A: Well, Col. North made the point that he could not ask for money himself as a government employee, but that he could provide information. And he did that. He began to explain the type of weapons which were needed. . . . He talked about Blowpipe missiles, which were $20,000 apiece, but which had to be purchased in packs of 10. These were necessary to counteract the Hind helicopter gunships, which the Russians had been supplying to the Sandinistas and were wreaking havoc upon the contras.

We also talked about Stinger missiles. He . . . referred to a type of NATO ammunition. He referred to a type of Eastern Bloc ammunition that was being used by the contras. . . . He gave prices for those. He also described a certain kind of aircraft that they needed (short takeoff and landing Maule aircraft). . . . They were quoted at $65,000 each. Apparently, that was a reduced price.

Q: Now, you say while Col. North was there, he stated that he could not himself ask for a contribution?. . . . What happened after he left?

A: Mr. Channell and I talked a bit more . . . and I indicated I'd be willing to think this over, and that I'd get back to Mr. Channell if I decided I wanted to contribute.

Q: What decision did you make about making a contribution?

A: I decided to contribute $130,000.

Q: And what was this to be for?

A: Two of the Maule aircraft.

Q: How did you make this contribution?

A: I hand-delivered the check to Mr. Channell in Washington a few days later. Plea for Money

( Garwood was asked by Sen. Warren B. Rudman (R-N.H.) about the similar briefing she received by North, followed by a plea for money by Channell.)

Q: . . . Where I come from, we call that the old one-two punch, is what we call that.

A: What do you mean by that?

Q: Well, I don't speak Texas, but let me see if I can explain. Col. North was telling you of a terrible need, knowing that you were a person of some means, but was obviously precluded . . . from asking directly for money . . . and moments later his friend, who took you to the airport to meet him, coincidentally asked you for money. . . . Obviously, Col. North was telling you of the sad plight of these people and then, moments later, Mr. Channell would ask you for money, and that's what I call the one-two punch.

A: Well . . . they didn't have to do a one-two punch with me, 'cause they knew I was already so interested and so eager to help to defend our country, that all they had to do was ask me, and if I had it, I'd give it. Nicaragua Plans

(O'Boyle was asked by Rep. Louis Stokes (D-Ohio) to elaborate on a private briefing O'Boyle received from North in April, 1986, about the Administration's Nicaragua policy.)

Q: Mr. O'Boyle, you had made the inquiry yourself of Mr. North as to what was the plan for Nicaragua. Is that correct?. . . . And then in response to that, he then said to you something to the effect that he would share it with you, but it was really a secret. . . . After that, what did he say?

A: Are you requiring me to answer that?

Q: Yes, sir.

A: He said there were . . . two plans in one, so to speak. One would be implemented if Congress approved the money last year for the contras. One would be implemented if Congress did not approve the money. They involved the Nicaraguan contras seizing a part of Nicaragua, establishing a provisional capital, a provisional government and the U.S. Navy going down and blockading the country, preventing the supplies coming in from Cuba to support the Sandinistas. And . . . supposedly, the Sandinistas would fall and the contra government would come into power. And then Nicaragua would be restored to democracy.

If the Congress did approve the money, this would happen on a slower time scale, giving the contras more time to consolidate their position. If they did not approve the money, it would happen on a much shorter time scale, which would be something of a desperation move, kind of a last-ditch effort, you might say. . . . That was the plan.

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