Vice President Bush has become deeply implicated in the Iran-contra affair because of internal memos described as "very damaging" by congressional sources familiar with them.

Bush's national security adviser, Donald P. Gregg, will pay the immediate price. Our White House sources predict that Gregg will be the next official forced to resign as a result of the Senate and House select committees' investigation.

Gregg is on record offering to resign, but Bush has not taken him up on it. Several White House aides, however, have urged Gregg to leave since his dealings with former CIA operative Felix I. Rodriguez came under Justice Department scrutiny last year. Rodriguez was part of the White House clandestine aid program to the Nicaraguan contras.

Rodriguez has testified about a meeting with Gregg last Aug. 8 in which the secret supply of arms to Iran was discussed. In his notes of the meeting, Gregg wrote: "A swap of weapons for $ was arranged to get aid for the contras."

Rodriguez, however, swore that he had not informed Gregg of any plan to swap weapons for money to aid the contras -- although he admitted discussing every other matter in Gregg's notes.

Committee sources tell us a secret internal memo implicates Gregg -- and by extrapolation Bush -- to a much greater degree in the contra aid program. Gregg denied last October that he had ever spoken with Rodriguez about the aid program, but later acknowledged the Aug. 8 discussion.

The committees are keeping a lid on another memo, which sources say involves Bush in the scandal much deeper than has been established. Bush has claimed only peripheral involvement in the Iran arms-for-hostages deal and has insisted he knew nothing of diversion of funds to aid the contras.

Bush has a credibility problem. He either doesn't remember certain things, or recalls them far more favorably to himself than others do.

On Dec. 29, Bush was disingenuous at best in an interview with the Tower commission's general counsel concerning a meeting in Jerusalem last July 29 with Amiram Nir, counterterrorism adviser to then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres.

A 17-paragraph memo written by Bush's chief of staff, Craig Fuller, who was there, makes it clear that the half-hour meeting dealt exclusively with the arms-for-hostages swap.

Nir "described the details of the efforts from last year through the current period to gain the release of the U.S. hostages," Fuller wrote. He added that Nir asked for a decision "as to whether the items requested would be delivered in separate shipments or whether we would continue to press for the release of the hostages prior to delivering the items in the amount agreed to previously."

Nir spoke of an agreement with the Iranians "on 4,000 units -- 1,000 first and then 3,000," according to Fuller's notes. "Items" and "units" referred to U.S. antitank TOW missiles. Another shipment "involved spares for {antiaircraft} Hawks and TOWs."

Despite this detail of the meeting, this is how the Tower board described Bush's interview with its counsel: "Vice President Bush related that this discussion with Mr. Nir was generally about counterterrorism. There was no discussion of specifics of arms going to the Iranians."