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IRAN-CONTRA AFFAIR: THE FINAL REPORT : Excerpts: Majority, Minority Views of Committees

November 19, 1987|From Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON Following are excerpts from the report on the Iran-Contra affair issued Wednesday by the congressional investigating committees:

Majority Report

The common ingredients of the Iran and Contra policies were secrecy, deception and disdain for the law. A small group of senior officials believed that they alone knew what was right. They viewed knowledge of their actions by others in the government as a threat to their objectives.

They told neither the secretary of state, the Congress nor the American people of their actions. When exposure was threatened, they destroyed official documents and lied to Cabinet officials, to the public and to elected representatives in Congress. They testified that they even withheld key facts from the President. . . .

Contradictions and Failures

The Administration's departure from democratic processes created the conditions for policy failure and led to contradictions which undermined the credibility of the United States.

The United States simultaneously pursued two contradictory foreign policies--a public one and a secret one:

--The public policy was not to make any concessions for the release of hostages lest such concessions encourage more hostage-taking. At the same time, the United States was secretly trading weapons to get the hostages back.

--The public policy was to ban shipments to Iran and to exhort other governments to observe this embargo. At the same time, the United States was secretly selling sophisticated missiles to Iran and promising more.

--The public policy was to improve relations with Iraq. At the same time, the United States secretly shared military intelligence on Iraq with Iran, and (Lt. Col. Oliver L.) North told the Iranians in contradiction to U.S. policy that the United States would help promote the overthrow of the Iraqi head of government.

--The public policy was to urge all governments to punish terrorism and to support, indeed encourage, the refusal of Kuwait to free the Daawa prisoners who were convicted of terrorist acts. At the same time, senior officials secretly endorsed a (Richard V.) Secord-(Albert A.) Hakim plan to permit Iran to obtain the release of Daawa prisoners.

--The public policy was to observe the "letter and spirit" of the Boland amendment's proscriptions against military or paramilitary assistance to the Contras. At the same time, the NSC (National Security Council) staff was secretly assuming direction and funding of the Contras' military effort.

--The public policy, embodied in agreements signed by (CIA) Director (William J.) Casey, was for the Administration to consult with the congressional oversight committees about covert activities in a "new spirit of frankness and cooperation." At the same time, the CIA and the White House were secretly withholding from those committees all information concerning the Iran initiative and the Contra supply network.

--The public policy, embodied in Executive Order 12333, was to conduct covert operations solely through the CIA or other organs of the intelligence community specifically authorized by the President. At the same time, although the NSC was not so authorized, the NSC staff secretly became operational and used private, non-accountable agents to engage in covert activities.

These contradictions in policy inevitably resulted in policy failure:

--The United States armed Iran, including its most radical elements, but attained neither a new relationship with that hostile regime nor a reduction in the number of American hostages.

--The arms sales did not lead to a moderation of Iranian policies. Moderates did not come forward, and Iran to this day sponsors actions directed against the United States in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere.

--The United States opened itself to blackmail by adversaries who might reveal the secret arms sales and who, according to (former NSC aide) North, threatened to kill the hostages if the sales stopped.

--The United States undermined its credibility with friends and allies, including moderate Arab states, by its public stance of opposing arms sales to Iran while undertaking such arms sales in secret.

--The United States lost a $10-million contribution to the Contras from the Sultan of Brunei by directing it to the wrong bank account--the result of an improper effort to channel that humanitarian aid contribution into an account used for lethal assistance.

--The United States sought illicit funding for the Contras through profits from the secret arms sales, but a substantial portion of those profits ended up in the personal bank accounts of the private individuals executing the sales--while the exorbitant amounts charged for the weapons inflamed the Iranians with whom the United States was seeking a new relationship.

Flawed Policy Process

The record of the Iran-Contra affair also shows a seriously flawed policy-making process.

There was confusion and disarray at the highest levels of government.

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