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Donald Gregg National Security Advisor to George Bush

Donald Gregg served as Vice President George Bush’s national security adviser. Because of Gregg’s friendship with former CIA officer Felix Rodriguez (who was involved in National Security Council staff member Oliver North’s contra-supply network under the alias “Max Gomez”), Walsh investigated Gregg to see if he was involved in pulling the strings of North’s operations. Gregg was also investigated regarding his alleged knowledge of North's network.

North claimed that Gregg introduced him to Rodriguez in advance of their initial meeting on December 21, 1984. However, State Department official William Bode claimed to have introduced the two men, a fact corroborated by Rodriguez. Even a note by North about a conversation with Bode implies this was the case. Likewise, although Gregg indisputably arranged a meeting between Bush and Rodriguez in late January 1985, this meeting was ostensibly only for Rodriguez to discuss his desire to support the counterinsurgency efforts in El Salvador.

Although Gregg claimed to know nothing about North’s network until August 8, 1986, when Rodriguez divulged his involvement, Walsh found an entry in North’s notebook from September 10, 1985, about a meeting among North, Gregg, and Colonel James Steele about the problems his Contra network faced. However, North stated that he did not remember this discussion, and Gregg and Steele said that it had not occurred.

According to Rodriguez, when North wrote him a letter on September 20, 1985, officially requesting his support at the Ilopango base for the resupply efforts, he told Rodriguez not to inform the CIA or the vice president’s office. Although North denied ever having done so, Rodriguez stated that he obeyed this command and did not divulge the existence of the network until August 8, 1986. However, while Rodriguez testified that he told Gregg about his involvement on August 8, Gregg contended that he never told Bush of this.

When Bush’s deputy national security adviser, Colonel Samuel Watson, traveled to Latin America in January 1986, Rodriguez escorted him, but both claimed that they did not discuss Rodriguez’s involvement in the resupply operations. However, when Watson returned he wrote a report about the Contras and sent it to Gregg. Watson wrote that he “visited the DFR's [Contras’] main aerial re-supply base [at Aguacate, Honduras] and looked at their DC-6 (not the best for infiltration and flying in between mountains), their parachuting packing and rigging facilities and their ammunition and supply warehouses.”

Further evidence of their knowledge exists from April 1986, when Rodriguez called Bush’s office to set up a meeting; he was thinking about ending his work in El Salvador. The memorandum for this May 1 meeting listed as the topic the “resupply of the contras.” But at the meeting itself, which included Gregg, Watson, Rodriguez, and Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas Brady (because of his interest in the region generally), the topic of resupply was never broached according to all participants. When Ambassador to El Salvador Edwin Corr joined them briefly, he praised Rodriguez’s work, so Rodriguez decided not to bring up his growing disenchantment.

Ultimately, Gregg answered a number of questions in an FBI polygraph examination in 1990. It was judged that he lied in his responses to the following questions:

  1. Prior to August 1986, did you know that Felix Rodriguez was assisting the Nicaraguan Contras?
  2. Prior to August 1986 were you aware that Felix Rodriguez was working with Oliver North to assist the Nicaraguan Contras?
  3. Prior to his media statement in October 1986, had you told then-Vice President Bush that persons in the U.S. Government were covertly and/or illegally involved in providing military supplies and assistance to the Nicaraguan Contras?
  4. Have you deliberately provided any false or misleading information in your testimony before Congress or a Federal Grand Jury?
  5. Have you ever given any false or misleading testimony about Felix Rodriguez to the Grand Jury or the congressional investigating committees?
  6. Have you ever given any false or misleading testimony regarding Oliver North to the Grand Jury or the congressional investigating committees?

Ultimately, enough uncertainties and discrepancies existed to make the evidence against Gregg insufficient to prove any criminal offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Indeed, even though the Independent Counsel granted immunity to Watson in return for his testimony, Watson’s repeatedly failed to remember key details and events.