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Alan Fiers, Jr.  Central American Task Force, Chief

From 1984 through 1988, Alan Fiers, Jr., served as chief of the Central American Task Force in the Central Intelligence Agency. He was the CIA official most involved with NSC staff member Oliver North’s Contra aid efforts after passage of the Boland Amendments that placed substantial limits on such aid.

By 1985, Fiers was aware both of the aid network as well as North’s role as its leader. Evidence of this included that Fiers passed on a CIA report of businessman Richard Secord’s interest in unrelated arms sales to North. That same year, former CIA agent Felix Rodriguez began to work in North’s operation. In early 1986, a disagreement between Fiers and Rodriguez took place, which ultimately led to a meeting in Washington at which Rodriguez’s full involvement was disclosed.

Even before then, according to a conversation Walsh had with an unnamed CIA official, Fiers told that official that he would be seeing more flights at his post in El Salvador under North’s command and that these flights would be carrying weapons. Around that time, Fiers also learned of retired CIA agent Thomas Clines’s involvement in North’s arms deals from a cable sent by CIA officers stationed in Europe.

In addition to his extensive knowledge of North and Rodriguez’s network, Fiers assisted them in their efforts. Indirectly (and, as such, legally), Fiers passed on flight vectors and clearances information to private benefactors. However, he knew by May 1986 that CIA officer Joseph Fernandez had given such information directly, yet withheld this knowledge from Congress. Moreover, after the crash of an American plane under North’s command that was carrying weapons to the Contras, “Fiers equivocated about the cargo of [that] plane—despite having received specific cables on the subject—and denied knowing who sponsored the flight.”

Days after the plane crash, on October 10, 1986, Fiers and CIA Deputy Director for Operations Clair George presented testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. George claimed, with Fiers at his side, that the CIA “has not been involved directly or indirectly in arranging, directing, or facilitating resupply missions conducted by private individuals in support of the Nicaraguan Democratic Resistance.” When asked if he agreed, Fiers said, “Yes.” They gave the same testimony days later in front of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

However, in 1987, Fiers started to disclose more about his contemporaneous knowledge of North’s involvement. He admitted knowing that North and Fernandez spoke often, that he was aware North had a relationship with Secord (who dealt with arms purchases for the rebels), and that North tried to sell Enterprise assets to the CIA. Fiers also divulged that he knew of North’s work with Rodriguez in late 1985. This conflicted with his earlier testimony, leading Walsh to indict him for concealing information from the HPSCI.

Fiers was also indicted for withholding information from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about his knowledge of the diversion of funds from arms sales with Iran to the contra supply network. He claimed to have learned about it from Attorney General Edwin Meese III’s press conference on November 25, 1986, but had actually known of it earlier from information provided to him by North. His decision to pass on to superiors what North had told him was proof of this knowledge.

In 1991, Fiers pleaded guilty to both counts and promised to cooperate with Walsh’s future investigations. Fiers was not only the star witness in the trials of George, but he also provided substantial information without which the Affairs could never have been well understood. He was also ordered to serve 100 hours of community service. However, in 1992, President George H.W. Bush pardoned him.