Poindexter ‘Didn’t Trust’ Congress, Former White House Aide Says
WASHINGTON (AP) _ John Poindexter ″didn’t trust″ Congress and preferred not to deal with the legislative branch of government, a former White House aide testified today at Poindexter’s trial.
″Admiral Poindexter was skeptical of the Congress,″ said Ronald Sable, who was a legislative liaison at the Reagan White House. ″He had not had much to do with Congress and that was his preference ... that he would just as soon not deal with them,″ he said.
″He indicated he didn’t trust them,″ Sable said.
″What about whether he liked them?″ asked Iran-Contra prosecutor Howard Pearl.
″That fell in the same category″ as not trusting them, said Sable.
Sable said that he had ″a difference of opinion with″ Poindexter ″on dealing with Congress.″ Sable said he told the national security adviser that ″if I was to continue to work for him his view of things would have to change.″
Poindexter is accused of conspiracy, two counts of obstructing Congress and two counts of making false statements to Congress. The government alleges that he covered up Oliver North’s assistance to the Contras and the U.S. role in a November 1985 Hawks shipment to Iran.
According to testimony Thursday, Poindexter told the FBI three days after he resigned from government that ″he had no working knowledge″ of 1985 arms shipments to Iran.
Poindexter said during the 15-minute interview with two agents that he had no direct knowledge of the diversion of Iran arms sale money to the Contras, FBI agent Ellen Glasser testified Thursday.
The former national security adviser told the FBI he knew only that his aide ″Ollie North ... was up to something,″ Glasser said.
Six months after the FBI interview, Poindexter told Congress in sworn testimony that he had approved the diversion at North’s request and that he had been involved in a November 1985 shipment of Hawk antiaircraft missiles to Iran.
Glasser said Poindexter agreed to the questioning in the living room of his Rockville, Md., home on Nov. 28, 1986, after ″I told him we were trying to learn″ about the ″arms transactions″ and the ″diversion.″
Poindexter, who is accused of purging more than 5,000 messages from his computer files, told the agents that ″he did not″ know of any destruction of documents pertinent to the Iran-Contra affair, the FBI agent said.
On Nov. 22, 1986, there were more than 5,000 messages at Poindexter’s computer terminal, but at 9 a.m. on Nov. 24 ″there were zero,″ Glasser testified.
″This massive deletion ... occurred in November 1986,″ she insisted under cross-examination by defense attorney Richard Beckler. Beckler suggested the deletions might have occurred at some other time.
Poindexter was logged onto the computer system for a 15-hour span Nov. 24, 1986, starting at 4:30 a.m., said Kelly Williams, who was in charge of the computer software section at the White House communications agency. That was the day before Poindexter resigned.
A defense lawyer, Joseph Small, angrily moved for a mistrial, saying Iran- Contra prosecutors had ″doctored″ documents on the computer system that contained Poindexter’s name. The government denied Small’s assertion.
″I don’t want you to pull this kind of stunt again,″ U.S. District Judge Harold Greene admonished Small in denying the motion.
Williams said Poindexter’s identification code was the one used to gain access to the computer when the files were deleted.
Prosecutor Louise Radin asked if deleting the files would be comparable to ″taking a manila envelope and just throwing it away?″
″Yes, that would be the effect,″ Williams replied.
Poindexter is accused of deleting files from his computer in an attempt to conceal from Congress the U.S. role in the delivery of the Hawk missiles. The CIA assisted the shipment from Israel to Iran.
Glasser said she showed Poindexter chronologies of the Iran initiative that concealed the U.S. role in the missile shipment. She said Poindexter said he recognized them and that they had been prepared by North for congressional hearings.
The agent said she then asked whether they were accurate and ″he replied that they were.″
North was convicted last April of aiding and abetting an obstruction of Congress in connection with the chronologies. The last version of the document stated that no one in the U.S. government knew about the missile shipment until January 1986.
Poindexter is accused of conspiracy, two counts of obstructing Congress and two counts of making false statements for the alleged coverup of the arm shipment and North’s military assistance to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua.