Mr. RUDMAN: With the exception of Admiral Poindexter, every high-level U.S
official who testified stated that Admiral Poindexter did not have
the authority to approve the diversion; that the diversion was improper and possibly illegal; and that the President would not have
approved of the diversion had he been consulted.
These officials are Secretary Shultz, Secretary Weinberger,
former Chief of Staff Regan, and Attorney General Meese.
Other covert operations run out of the National Security Council,
specifically, certain other Contra-support activities of Colonel
North and the hostage release effort involving the DEA, were not
approved the President.
This gives every appearance of violating President Reagan's
orders to his own administration under Executive Order 12333 and
National Security Decision Directive 159 and, in the case of the
Centra-support activities, may have been illegal on other grounds.
The same four officials mentioned above testified that the National Security Council staff should not be conducting covert operations. That point is well taken inasmuch as the primary role of
the National Security Council is to analyze and coordinate policy.
The CIA has recognized the dangers of mixing intelligence analysis and operational activities for years, and has gone to great
lengths to separate the two.
This is further buttressed by the one-sided analyses prepared for
the President by Colonel North and Admiral Poindexter, when
they bothered to consult him, in these matters in which they were
exercising operational control.
Inadequate control was exercised over these covert operations
run out of the NSC. This may be a result of the fact that neither
Admiral Poindexter nor Colonel North had any covert operations
experience whatsoever prior to their time at the NSC. Or, it may
be the result of a single-minded pursuit of goals they thought justified virtually by any means.
One aberration found in this set of events is that private parties
were involved in the making of foreign policy, as distinguished
from being hired as agents to carry out a task which assists in the
implementation of policy.
For example, there were instances where Mr. Hakim and General Secord were apparently negotiating with foreign officials on
behalf of the United States, where the outcome of the talks might
make a tremendous difference to their own financial well being.
The results speak for themselves.
NSC staff attempted to coverup all records of their questionable
activities when the possibility of exposure arose. That coverup accelerated when the Attorney General undertook his fact-finding inquiry at the behest of the President.
The coverup included shredding of official documents, lying to
the Attorney General and his representatives, and withholding information from the President.
The allegation that the Attorney General was himself involved
in the coverup is unfair and in my view false. Although some of us
have been strongly critical of some of the Attorney General's actions during the course of his inquiry, it was the Attorney General
and his staff who initially uncovered some of the facts of the
wrongdoing and exposed them.
Certain NSC staff showed total disrespect for the laws of the
United States and our system of government, in effect adopting a
position that the end justifies the means.
Admiral Poindexter made major decisions without consulting the
President, misled or lied to Cabinet officers and the Congress, congratulated Colonel North for lying to Congress, and shredded official government documents, including those reflecting Presidential
Colonel North lied to Congress and the Attorney General, shredded government documents thereby frustrating a fact-finding inquiry undertaken at the specific request of the President, and engaged in a number of questionable activities, admittedly with his
He may have accepted a gift from a private individual knowing
that it was illegal, albeit for understandable motives, and saw nothing wrong with commingling "official" and personal funds.
On this last point, while Colonel North persuasively testified
that he gained no personal benefit from the commingling, he destroyed the only records which would corroborate that.
Both of them flouted virtually every standard operating procedure that exists within the national security establishment for the
development of government policy.
These actions and the attitudes they represent are antithetical to
our democratic system of government. They cannot be justified by
passion, patriotism, appropriate concern over the expansion of communism in Central America, or legitimate dismay over the policies
enacted by the Congress.
This investigation of the two committees has been conducted in a
remarkably fair and bipartisan fashion. The Senators on the
Senate Select Committee have devoted immense amounts of time,
not only attending virtually every minute of these hearings, but devoting at least as much time again in preparation for the hearings,
in reviewing classified material, and in attendance at depositions
and meetings of the committee.
Each Senator thoroughly familiarized himself with a mass of information gathered. Each Senator participated actively in the hearings, asked excellent questions, and contributed to our work. They
have earned the trust placed in them by their constituents.
I want to thank Chairman Hamilton, Chairman Inouye, and Representative Cheney. The bipartisan, thorough, fair, and expeditious
nature of this investigation is due in large part to their efforts.
Over the next month, we will be reviewing the record developed
by these hearings and discussing recommendations for the future.
These recommendations should not only deal with changes in the
process of the executive branch. It is also important for the committee to look at the way in which Congress is involved in the foreign policy process and to make recommendations to improve relations between Congress and the executive branch. I look forward to
a bipartisan report which will reflect the views of all of us.
I would like to close these remarks with a few comments that are
strictly my own.
The Tower Board essentially concluded that the problem in this
so-called Iran-Contra affair was that the normal processes had been
ignored—and that is largely true. What the Tower Board missed,
however—and this is through no fault of theirs since they lacked
immunity power, subpoena authority, staff, and time—was the
extent to which power was abused by a very small group of individuals.
Senator Nunn opened these hearings with the remark and I
quote him that "we cannot promote democracy abroad by undermining it at home." That is what these individuals did and, in my
view, it is the most important revelation of these hearings.
This abuse of power is dangerous to and fundamentally unacceptable in our constitutional system of government. And the most important message that must come out of these hearings is that there
is no room for such behavior in this country.
There are many different perspectives represented on this committee, yet I have to hear anyone defend the diversion and the way
it came about.
The administration obviously shares that view—the Secretary of
Defense, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the
former White House Chief of Staff all condemned the diversion.
No matter how well intentioned the actions were, the officials responsible did a great disservice to our President and the country
that they had sworn to serve.
The philosopher Nietzsche said, "Democratic contrivances are
quarantine measures against that ancient plague, the lust for
power. As such, they are very necessary and very boring."
When those safeguards are abused, as they were in this instance,
it threatens the liberty of us all. There is no place for that kind of
behavior or even the attitude it represents among high officials in