Secord Tells of Secret Meeting With Iranian Officials at White House
Retired Maj. Gen. Richard V. Secord arranged a secret White House meeting in September, 1986, for three Iranian officials to assure them they were dealing with the “highest echelons of U.S. government,” he said Monday night on ABC’s “Nightline” program.
Secord said he opened the “second channel” of Iranian contacts with the approval of Marine Lt. Col. Oliver L. North and unidentified CIA officials because former National Security Adviser Robert C. McFarlane’s secret mission to Tehran in May, 1986, failed to gain the release of all American hostages in Lebanon.
“The officials were told they would meet with direct representatives of the President and they did,” Secord said on “Nightline.” He identified the U.S. officials as North, George Cave of the CIA and himself.
Secord said he did not reveal the meeting during his four days of public testimony last week before the congressional committees investigating the Iran- contra affair because the committees “were running short on time.”
On a related topic, Secord said President Reagan, who denied until March 4 that his arms sales to Iran were deals for hostages, knew about and approved the October, 1986, sale of 500 TOW missiles to Iran in exchange for hostages.
“I’m sure President Reagan knew about this and approved this every step of the way,” Secord said.
The three unidentified Iranians, who came in September, 1986, were led by North on a late-night secret tour of the White House. Secord said Reagan was away from the White House that day, but “he was aware of this and was completely briefed on the results on the meeting.”
Secord said he arranged for a Lear jet to bring the Iranians to the United States and hoped the meetings would pave the way for a “high-level meeting” between Iranian officials and State Department officials.