McFarlane Admits ‘Dead Wrong’ Letter : Tells of Misleading Note to Congress on Aid to Contras

From Times Wire Services

Former National Security Adviser Robert C. McFarlane, his face red and his eyes filling with tears, furiously acknowledged today that on the day before he attempted suicide he sent a “dead wrong” letter to Congress about outside donations to Nicaraguan rebels.

McFarlane responded angrily to John Keker, a prosecutor at Oliver North’s Iran-Contra trial, when questioned about a Feb. 8, 1987, letter to then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Lee Hamilton.

Keker said the letter is “just complete nonsense, isn’t it?”

McFarlane cited his “state of mind the day before I tried to take my life” and said the letter “probably would have come out differently” if he had “tried to parse every last dime.”

Offer From Saudi Arabia

The letter said that a foreign national offered to contribute money to the Contras in a May, 1984, meeting with McFarlane and that the amount donated was $5 million or less. In fact, the offer came from the government of Saudi Arabia through its ambassador, and the country donated $32 million to the Contras starting in 1984.

The letter said the money “was from his (the foreign national’s) own wealth and not from any government.”


When Keker pointed out that that statement was false, McFarlane responded: “That is a gloss, but that is what he (the Saudi ambassador) told me.”

“In my own state of mind, I was acknowledging my participation in a third-country donation. I knew darn well it was something about a million dollars a month . . . if I had toted up the full amount,” McFarlane said. He added that “I am dead wrong” in the letter about the amount.

One of Four Misdemeanors

The letter by McFarlane followed his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in December, 1986, in which he said he was unfamiliar with any Saudi contribution.

His 1986 testimony was one of four misdemeanors to which McFarlane pleaded guilty to withholding information from Congress in the Iran-Contra affair. He was given a suspended sentence after agreeing to testify in the North trial.

McFarlane also testified that on a car ride to the White House on Nov. 21, North said, “We’re going to have a shredding party . . . to relieve any fears I had” about becoming involved in a political brouhaha with Congress over the Iran initiative.