WASHINGTON — Lt. Col. Oliver L. North leaked the very story he said last week was leaked by Congress, Newsweek reported Sunday.
In his testimony before the congressional Iran- contra committees, North acknowledged intentionally misleading Congress about U.S. arms sales to Iran and diversion of profits to the Nicaraguan rebels.
He justified this deception by citing what he claimed were two leaks by members of Congress of sensitive information--one case involving the U.S. attack on Libya; the other involving interception of an airliner carrying terrorists believed guilty of the hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro.
But Newsweek, in releasing parts of its July 27 issue Sunday, said in fact it was North who leaked details about the Achille Lauro terrorists' capture after the incident--to Newsweek.
Cites Late Briefing
North testified last week that shortly before the bombing of Libya, two members of Congress left a last-minute briefing by President Reagan on the attack and told reporters that Reagan was going to speak to the nation about Libya later that same evening.
The Marine lieutenant colonel strongly intimated that the statements by those members of Congress tipped Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi sufficiently to allow him to increase his anti-aircraft defenses.
North then charged that "a number of members of Congress" divulged details of the daring U.S. interception of an Egyptian airliner carrying the terrorists suspected of hijacking the Achille Lauro and killing an American tourist.
The disclosure, North said, "very seriously compromised our intelligence activities."
But Newsweek said: "But the colonel did not mention that details of the (airliner) interception, first published in a Newsweek cover story, were leaked by none other than North himself."