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THE IRAN--CONTRA HEARINGS : North Didn't Shred in His Presence, Reynolds Asserts

July 22, 1987|United Press International

WASHINGTON — Assistant Atty. Gen. William Bradford Reynolds, under fire for a shoddy preliminary inquiry of the Iran- contra affair, said Tuesday that Lt. Col. Oliver L. North lied to Congress about shredding documents under investigators' noses.

"There was no shredding in my presence," said Reynolds, one of two close aides to Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III who conducted the initial fact-finding inquiry that uncovered the diversion of Iran arms sales profits to the Nicaraguan rebels.

"His testimony was not credible. I know," Reynolds said. "I am the one who had firsthand knowledge of that. I knew that was not the case."

Reynolds' contention was buttressed by the sworn testimony of Lt. Col. Robert Earle, North's deputy on the National Security Council, released Tuesday by the Iran-contra committees. Earle said North could not have shredded in the investigators' presence because his office shredder was not functioning.

At the same time, however, Earle said he believed North did shred documents at another machine in the West Wing of the White House while Reynolds and Chief of Staff John Richardson took a lunch break on Nov. 22, 1986.

At that lunch, Reynolds disclosed to Meese the discovery of the April, 1986, memo proposing the diversion of Iran arms sales profits to the Nicaraguan rebels, which led three days later to North's firing and the resignation of his boss, Rear Adm. John M. Poindexter.

Appearing before the Iran-contra committees under a grant of immunity from prosecution, North raised the specter of a possible cover-up or severe ineptitude with his contention that he shredded sensitive documents while the two investigators were in his office reviewing his files.

"I was working at my desk on other things, literally cleaning up files on lots of things and when I finished with a handful of documents, I'd walk up, walk past them, walk out the door. You know where the shredder was. Turn the corner, turn on the shredder and drop them in," North said.

"They were working 10 feet from me. . . . They were working on their projects. I was working on mine," he said, to laughter.

Reynolds, in a brief interview Tuesday, said he had no indication that day that North would attempt to destroy evidence.

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