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Why Would This Man Lie? Asks Lawyer

August 10, 1992

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A defense lawyer hopes to convince a federal jury that former CIA spymaster Clair George had no reason to lie when he testified before Congress about the Iran-Contra affair in late 1986.

″Tell me why this man would sacrifice 30 or more years of public service on the altar of perjury just so he could keep you from knowing something before Christmas?″ defense lawyer Richard Hibey demanded Friday while cross- examining former Sen. Thomas Eagleton.

Eagleton, who was a member of Senate Intelligence Committee, accused George of purposely lying when he told the panel he had never met arms middleman Richard Secord.

Eagleton said George wanted to avoid contradicting his previous testimony in October to another Senate committee, in which he also said he had not met Secord.

The trial entered its 12th day of testimony today with evidence on the authenticity of documents and a reading of George’s testimony to the Intelligence Committee. The defense was expected to begin presenting its case this week.

George, the former No. 3 CIA official in charge of all overseas spy operations, is charged with concealing from Congress his knowledge of Oliver North’s secret military supply operation for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels.

He also is accused of lying when he told the Senate intelligence panel he had never met Secord and did not know his role in secret U.S. arms sales to Iran.

Secord testified last week that he and George met during a Jan. 20, 1986, meeting in the White House Situation Room. North and national security adviser John Poindexter were among others who attended the discussion about a document signed by President Reagan that ordered new U.S. arms sales to Iran.

″Who was the founding father of this whole sordid mess?″ Eagleton asked during a heated exchange with Hibey. ″Clair George was, along with Secord, North, Poindexter. Those were the founding fathers in that room on that day.″

Hibey told jurors that George gave extensive testimony to the Intelligence Committee and told senators that other CIA officials could fill in details he didn’t know. George also promised to provide all documents he had that were relevant to the Iran-Contra inquiry, the defense lawyer said.

Prosecutor Craig Gillen said George didn’t follow through because some key documents found in his safe and files were not turned over to the committee.

George has pleaded innocent to three counts of obstructing Congress and a federal grand jury and six counts of perjury and false statements.

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