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Military Passed Over in Iran Deal--Crowe

October 13, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Reagan Administration bypassed normal Pentagon channels when it decided to sell weapons to Iran and failed to get the military's assessment on the impact of those sales on the Iran-Iraq War, the nation's top uniformed officer told Congress in testimony released today.

Adm. William J. Crowe Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he did not learn about the arms sales until at least five months after President Reagan approved them in January, 1986.

When he eventually asked Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger about the sales, Crowe said, Weinberger replied that "it was his understanding that a conscious decision had been made that it was not a military matter, so it was not necessary to bring in the military."

The weapons were transferred from Defense Department stocks to the CIA, which helped get them to Iran.

The admiral made the statements to congressional Iran- contra investigators in a deposition last June. It was made public today by the Iran-contra committees, now preparing to issue their report on the affair later this month.

Crowe said he and Weinberger "both agreed that the commander in chief of the United States can do what he wants to do. . . . Whether it is wise or not is a separate question."

Crowe also said that no active-duty military officer should lead the National Security Council. He did not refer by name to newly retired Rear Adm. John M. Poindexter, who, as Reagan's national security adviser, headed the council during much of the Iran-contra affair, in which profits from the Iran arms sales were diverted to support Nicaraguan rebels.

"I think that the question of military officers serving on the NSC should be examined . . . with a view toward putting some kind of fixed limit on the term of service over there for a military officer," Crowe said.

"I don't have any flaw-proof advice for you," he said. "The best advice is to get good people that have some allegiance to doing well and staying within their authority."

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