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North Temporarily Loses His Way in a Murky World of Secret Code

July 09, 1987|From a Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Lt. Col. Oliver L. North temporarily got lost Wednesday in the murky world of stealth and deception that he helped create in the Iran- contra affair.

At congressional hearings, chief House counsel John W. Nields Jr. asked North about notes he had made of a 1986 telephone conversation with an Israeli official about U.S. plans to replenish the Israelis for missiles they had sold to Iran the year before.

One note read: "Joshua has approved proceeding, as we had hoped." Nields asked who Joshua was.

"Joshua was an Israeli-originated code name for one of the Israeli officials," North replied.

Nields, a bit startled, suggested that North take a look at the code sheet in a notebook of hearing exhibits.

"Yes, OK, I've got it," North said after finding the sheet. "I was wrong. I'd forgotten the codes."

Nields: "Who is Joshua?"

North: "The President."

North also testified that "Samuel" was code for Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger and that "Banana is Israel" and "Oranges is the United States."

He said the code was necessary because the phone line he was using was not secure.

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