WASHINGTON — Following are excerpts from testimony Thursday by Secretary of State George P. Shultz before the congressional committees investigating the Iran-contra affair:
In the Dark
Mark Belnick, a staff lawyer with the Senate committee, asks Shultz what he knew when about arms sales to Iran.
\f7 Question: When were you first informed that the President of the United States had signed a covert action finding authorizing the sale of U.S. arms to Iran?
Answer: On Nov. 10, 1986, at a meeting in the Oval Office with the President's principal advisers during a briefing by Adm. Poindexter (Rear Adm. John M. Poindexter, former national security adviser) on what had transpired over the past year or so.
Q: Mr. Secretary, when were you informed that there was more than one such covert action finding signed by the President?
A: When I was testifying before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I believe it was Sen. (William S.) Cohen (R-Me.), during the question period, asked me about a Jan. 6 finding. And I said to him: "Senator, I think you must be thinking of the Jan. 17 finding." I believe that was you that--and you said: "No, Jan. 6." I said: "Well, that's the first I've heard of the Jan. 6 finding." So that's when I heard about it.
Q: And when were you first informed, Mr. Secretary, that the President had signed also a third finding on Dec. 5, 1985?
A: When it emerged during the course of these hearings.
Q: Mr. Secretary, when were you first informed that this nation had sold weapons directly to Iran?
A: Well, it depends on what you consider being informed. But, when this all started to break in very early November, 1986, there were press reports of arms sales that seemed authoritative. . . .
Q: Prior to those reports in the press, had any member of the United States government informed you that the United States had sold weapons directly from the United States to Iran?
\o7 (Belnick asks Shultz when he learned that Robert C. McFarlane, Poindexter's predecessor as national security adviser, traveled to Iran in May, 1986, to negotiate an arms-for-hostages swap.)
\f7 A: It was after the mission, but I think shortly after it was completed.
Q: And were you given the details of the mission at that time?
A: I was told that it had fizzled and that with those events in mind, the fizzling of that initiative, that the whole project had been told to stand down.
Q: Were you told at the time that Mr. McFarlane had brought U.S. weapons with him to Tehran?
Didn't Want to Know?
\o7 Belnick asks Shultz to comment on Poindexter's testimony that Shultz had not been informed about the Iran arms sales because Shultz had asked not to know.\f7
Q: In particular, Adm. Poindexter testified that he did not withhold anything from you that you did not want withheld from you. With this in mind, Mr. Secretary, this testimony in mind, let me ask you first whether you ever told Adm. Poindexter or any other member of the Administration that you did not want to be kept informed of the Iran initiative.
A: I never made such a statement. What I did say to Adm. Poindexter was that I wanted to be informed of the things I needed to know to do my job as secretary of state, but he didn't need to keep me posted on the details, the operational details, of what he was doing. . . . The reason for that was that there had been a great amount of discussion of leaks in the Administration, and justifiably so. . . .
Q: But the main events, you wanted to be kept informed of?
Q: And that was true not only with respect to Iran, but with respect to all areas of foreign relations activity, including activities engaged in by the NSC (National Security Council) staff in Central America.
A: Not only did I want to be informed, but when I found out things, sometimes by chance, I did my best to act on those things.
\o7 Belnick asks Shultz about his impression that Reagan's advisers were misleading the President about the Iran initiative.
\f7 Q: And did you begin developing the view, particularly as of Nov. 10--we'll talk about the press guidance that you got on that day--that the President's advisers were misleading him in not giving him the facts concerning what had actually transpired in the Iran initiative?
A: I developed a very clear opinion that the President was not being given accurate information, and I was very alarmed about it. And it became the preoccupying thing that I was working on through this period. And I felt that it was tremendously important for the President to get accurate information so he could see and make a judgment.