White House Raps Iran Arms Stories as ‘Old’
President Reagan’s spokesman reacted strongly today to news stories suggesting Reagan actively led an effort last November to conceal details of an arms-for-hostages plan and to keep the plan alive after the first disclosures.
Weekend news reports, citing recently released notes of a White House meeting last Nov. 10, said Reagan told his top advisers, including members of his Cabinet, “We don’t talk TOWs, don’t talk specifics.” (Story, Page 11.)
The notes were taken by Alton G. Keel Jr., then deputy national security adviser. The arms shipments to Iran included TOWs, which are anti-tank weapons.
‘An Old Story’
Reagan spokesman Marlin Fitzwater, apparently referring to a Sunday Washington Post story, said, “This is an old story dealt with in its entirety in the Tower board,” a reference to the presidentially appointed commission that issued a report on the Iran- contra affair last February.
Fitzwater quoted the board’s report, which said, “The President wanted to avoid providing too much specificity or detail out of concern for the hostages still held in Lebanon and those Iranians who had supported the initiative.”
“In doing so, he did not, we believe, intend to mislead the American public or cover up unlawful conduct,” the Tower report said. “By at least Nov. 20, the President took steps to ensure that all the facts would come out.”
Thoroughly Reviewed Earlier
Fitzwater, commenting aboard Air Force One on a presidential trip to Wisconsin, said, “I think the President is disturbed that this issue was so thoroughly reviewed by the Tower board and openly discussed at the time and somehow the facts have been overlooked.”
Speaking for himself, Fitzwater said, “I frankly think that some members of the press are so hungry to destroy the President that they’ve lost all perspective.”
At the Capitol, meanwhile, the House and Senate investigating committees met behind closed doors today for about two hours to work out details for the final two weeks of public hearings, which begin Tuesday with the appearance of Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III.