Lt. Col. Oliver L. North, giving an Iranian contact a secret peek into the Oval Office, likened the Cabinet to a canine conference and then-CIA Director William J. Casey to a sleeping dog.

Albert A. Hakim, financial organizer of the secret U.S. arms sales to Iran, testified that North, then a National Security Council aide, was feeling "upbeat" about what appeared to be a promising new channel to the government in Tehran.

After a long day of discussions in North's Old Executive Office Building office last September, North and Hakim escorted their Iranian guest on a wide-ranging tour of the White House, including a glimpse of the president's office.

"While we were passing by one of the corridors, stepping down the stairs, we came across a picture hanging on the wall.

"It portrayed . . . like a conference table and there were dogs sitting around the table. I remember there was one of the dogs that was taking a little nap.

"And Ollie was feeling very upbeat and he asked me to translate for our guest that this represented our Cabinet, see, and that Mr. Casey was taking a nap."

"That broke the ice, it did," Hakim told the select congressional committees investigating the Iran-contra affair.