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Ex-CIA Chief’s Statements on Secord Contradicted

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A veteran CIA officer testified Monday that former CIA spy chief Clair E. George had expressed concern about retired Air Force Gen. Richard V. Secord’s participation in the arms for hostages deal with Iran, despite earlier statements by George to the contrary.

The reluctant but potentially damaging testimony by George W. Cave provided support for the prosecution’s charge that George, on trial for perjury, obstruction and false statements, lied to the Senate Intelligence Committee when he denied knowing crucial details about Secord’s involvement.

“I can recall several times at which Mr. George expressed concern over Secord’s involvement,” Cave said as the prosecution neared completion of its case against George, the former deputy director for operations of the CIA and the highest ranking CIA official to be indicted in the Iran-Contra scandal.

Cave often referred to George not by name, but by his position as “DDO,” as he listed CIA meetings and briefings in which Secord’s role was discussed. Now a consultant to the CIA, Cave testified after U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ordered courtroom artists not to sketch the witness, who has spent much of his career in undercover assignments.

Cave, a white-haired, balding veteran of 36 years of CIA service, said George thought Secord had become involved in activities for which he had no background. Cave cited as an example Secord’s use of a Southern Air Transport 707 in February, 1986, to help deliver 1,000 TOW missiles to Iran. Southern Air Transport had been a “proprietary,” or front company, for the CIA.

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In addition to assisting in the TOW shipment, Secord’s Swiss bank account was used to funnel funds to the CIA for buying and shipping the missiles. Secord, who also testified as a government witness, previously pleaded guilty to a felony charge of withholding information about Iran-Contra.

Under questioning by independent prosecutor Sam Wilkins, Cave said George also was worried about Secord’s contacts with renegade CIA agent Edwin Wilson, who provided terrorist material and training to Libya and is now serving a federal prison sentence.

Cave’s testimony followed that of former Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton (D-Mo.), who told jurors on Friday that “Secord was the key to the door” of the Iran-Contra scandal. As jurors appeared glued to his words, Eagleton, a member of the Senate intelligence panel in 1986 when George testified, said George had withheld crucial information.

“No other single piece of information at that point in time would have been more important to the committee than to know what Richard Secord was doing,” Eagleton said. “That would have been of staggering help.”

Cave said several times during his testimony that he could not recall whether George had attended CIA sessions in which Secord’s role was discussed. But he later changed his statements, after prosecutors read back to him earlier testimony in which he had spoken of George’s involvement.

In another development Monday, Lamberth “excused” without explanation juror David Willett Bullock, 44, a social insurance claim examiner, who had said he had expertise in martial arts, teaching, medicine, supervision and management.

The replacement of Bullock by alternate juror Ethleree Tillery came after a conference with defense lawyers and prosecutors in Lamberth’s chambers. Lamberth said he would release a transcript of the conference after the trial ends or the jury is sequestered.

In an interview Monday night, Bullock said the judge removed him after he asked one of the judge’s law clerks last week about “the jurors’ right to ‘nullification of law.’ ”

He said this “right” was volunteered to him by a friend in Tallahassee, Fla., during a social telephone call. The friend told him that jurors can nullify a law in a given case when, even though the facts show that a defendant had violated the law, jurors felt it should not apply.

The law clerk, whose name Bullock said he did not know, “hemmed and hawed” about the proposed right and Bullock said he might ask the judge about it.

After being interviewed by the judge in the presence of attorneys from both sides, Bullock said he left the judge’s chambers, and after five or 10 minutes was called back and Lamberth said he felt it best “to relieve me of any future duties.”

Bullock called his dismissal “embarrassing” and “devastating” and said he had reached page 99 on legal pad notes that he was taking of every witness’ testimony. He said he might ask the judge to return his notes now.


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