In what he called his "first and very last words" on the matter. Jordan's King Hussein has labeled as a "complete fabrication" a report that he was the personal beneficiary of millions of dollars in covert Central Intelligence Agency money.
The CIA payments were disclosed Feb. 18 in a story by Washington Post staffwriter Bob Woodward. Hussein's disclaimer was made in a soon-to-be published interview with correspondent Arnaud de Borchgrave, of Newsweek magazine.
The Jordanian king did not deny that he received the CIA money, which has amounted to as much as $15 million since 1957, according to some reports. However, he told de Borchgrave, "If you mean . . . the payments were made directly to the king for his benefit and with political conditions and obligations, this is a complete fabrication."
Hussein said the CIA's financial assistance "was designed only to enhance our [Jordan's] intelligence and security capabilities, period."
The developments leading to and following the disclosure of the payments were "ridiculous and insulting," Hussein said.
The payments were reported last year as an impropriety to President Ford by the Intelligence Oversight Board, a three-member panel Ford established to help curb U.S. intelligence abuses.
President Ford reportedly did not amounted to about $750,000 in 1976.
President Carter learned of the payments after The Post began its investigation. He has since ordered the payments stopped.
Hussein said he did not understand what all the fuss was about.
"What is a proper way to support a friend and ally is strictly your business," he said in the interview which will appear in the March 7 edition of Newsweek. "The subject never came up before and I was totally unaware that this assistance to Jordan had come into question last year. What is proper in some minds is apparently improper in others. As far as I am concerned, anything I can get for Jordan and my people is proper," Hussein said.
In a televised interview yesterday. "Face the Nation" (CBS, WTOP), Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance said he saw nothing illegal or improper about the payments. But he said the payments could not be continued under present circumstances.
"In the cases of intelligence assistance (to foreign governments), it is given through CIA channels," Vance said. "There is nothing improper or illegal about that. But it cannot be done in the glare of publicity," he said.
Hussein said he believes the principal motivation of contributors to The post Story was to "undermine the credibility and integrity of those who are able and willing to contribute to the forces of peace" in the Middle East. He said he believes the reports "may have a deleterious effect on persevere "regardless of attempts to peace efforts, but that he intends to sabotage a just and durable peace."