Marine Lt. Col. Oliver L. North said yesterday that the late CIA director William J. Casey planned to use the profits from secret U.S. arms sales to Iran to perpetuate a self-sustaining, overseas organization that would run future covert operations by the United States and friendly countries.

North said the organization, described by Senate chief counsel Arthur L. Liman as a "CIA outside of the CIA," would grow out of the private operation North was using in the secret Iran and contra operations. That organization, known as "the enterprise," was not disclosed to Congress, and North said there had been no discussion of whether the permanent entity envisioned by Casey would be subject to U.S. law and congressional oversight.

Asked by Liman whether he was "shocked" that the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, which operates under legal constraints, would propose such a covert entity, North replied that he was not.

"I don't see that it was necessarily inconsistent with the laws, regulations, statutes and all that obtain," he said. "I don't see that it would be in any way a violation of anything that I know of."

In answer to a question by Rep. Ed Jenkins (D-Ga.), North agreed that the organization would be directed by the U.S. government but would not use government funds. Jenkins, whose soft-spoken southern demeanor appeared to put the tightly strung witness at ease, then went on to raise the question of what would happen if "future Ollies" who had jurisdiction over the fund "wanted to give the money to the Sandinistas."

"They better look out for me if they did," North replied stonily.

One of the issues that has arisen in the hearings is who owns more than $8 million in Swiss accounts left over from the 1986 clandestine arms sales. The funds are under control of businessman Albert A. Hakim, who has said he is not willing at this point to turn them over to the government now that the operation has been revealed. The funds have been frozen by the Swiss government pending legal action.

In a display of bravado during Jenkins' questioning, North boasted, "Give me 10 minutes with Mr. Hakim" and the money would be taken back.

Sen. William S. Cohen (R-Maine), ranking member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, called the disclosure "perhaps the most serious revelation to have taken place during the course of these proceedings," and added that "if members of Congress are not disturbed about that revelation, then I think the American people should be."

Jenkins noted that the covert operations North had run through the enterprise had apparently been conducted without the knowledge of a single elected U.S. official, according to North's testimony that neither the president, vice president nor any member of Congress knew about it.

As an example of how the enterprise worked, North cited Casey's request that he obtain a ship in 1986 from which to beam radio broadcasts into a "hostile" country on the Mediterranean, identified by other sources as Libya. North said that "unbelievable though it may seem," the United States could not find a ship in the CIA or Navy that could do the job.

North said that with the help of retired Air Force major general Richard V. Secord, who had operational control of the activity, he obtained a ship within 72 hours.

However, according to National Security Council documents released yesterday, "Ollie offered {the CIA} the use of a Danish vessel, but the CIA determined that it was too expensive to refit the vessel as a broadcast ship." The memo said it would be cheaper to outfit a CIA-owned vessel and pointed out that one of the individuals involved with North, former CIA operative Thomas G. Clines, had a background that raised questions for the agency. "The CIA will have nothing to do with the ship," according to the NSC memo, which added that the agency was opposed to the operation in the first place.

Subsequently, it has been testified, North used the ship for other operations.

This and other examples of North's freewheeling style while serving as an aide at the NSC were highlighted yesterday by Liman and Jenkins.

The most dramatic episode had to do with his activities while negotiating with Iranian representatives in Frankfurt last October.

During critical meetings aimed at attempting to free additional Americans held hostage in Lebanon by pro-Iranian extremists, North made what he acknowledged yesterday were "blatantly false" statements concerning commitments the U.S. government would make in return.

These included defending Iran in case of a Soviet attack, stating that President Reagan would acquiesce in the removal of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and suggesting that the United States might support a plan to release 17 Lebanese terrorists in prison in Kuwait for bombings at the U.S. and French embassies there -- all departures from actual U.S. policy.

North acknowledged he had leeway, but no "specific authorization" from Casey or then-national security adviser John M. Poindexter to endorse these positions with the Iranians. He also said he had not discussed them with the State Department.

When Jenkins asked how he could begin a new initiative with Iran with "a lot of falsehoods that would later obviously come back to haunt us very quickly," North replied that he had made the things "fuzzy enough," with the exception of the return of the American hostages.

At one point in the negotiations, according to a transcript of the meeting released yesterday by the committees, North declared, "We also recognize that Saddam Hussein must go."

North testified that he believed any misunderstandings about the commitments could be cleared up by subsequent meetings at the "secretary of state level."

According to a current NSC official, when the agreements that North had supervised were discovered, Reagan disowned any knowledge of them and Secretary of State George P. Shultz arranged for a meeting with Iranian representatives last December to inform that they had no standing with the U.S. government.

Concerning the promise to defend Iran in the event of Soviet attack, North said yesterday, "We have built a U.S. Central Command for that specific purpose. And it wasn't something that was a deep, dark secret. The fact is, that's why it exists. That's why the Congress spent literally billions of dollars building that command."

North said he did not feel uncomfortable advancing that offer because "the United States would contend that the Soviet Union should not occupy Iran," snd the United States "was not about to relinquish control of Iran to the Soviet Union."

The draft agreement actually was written by Hakim and the Iranian representatives and a final version was transmitted to North, who had returned to Washington.

At the time, the NSC position was that the United States would not discuss the issue of the Lebanese prisoners in Kuwait, a position North testified that he had helped to write and develop. But he said that the Frankfurt proposal "did not involve the United States, and that's an important thing to understand."

He said that the Iranians would deal with Hakim, who was not part of the U.S. government.

"Do you think that the Iranians who were dealing with you drew that distinction?" Liman asked.

"I don't know," said North, who said he could not recall whether Hakim had been introduced as the "president's translator," as he had in a meeting earlier in the year with a different group of Iranians.

According to transcripts of the meeting, North introduced Hakim as a consultant to him "in the president's office" and a Farsi-language broadcaster for the Voice of America.

Yesterday's afternoon session opened with committee members engaging in the first heated public exchanges since hearings opened two months ago. But the sniping revealed some unorthodox divisions.

Rep. Bill McCollum Jr. (R-Fla.) had accused Liman in the morning of being "out of line" in asking questions in a way that "prejudge" the opinion of the committees. Liman heads the Senate's bipartisan staff. Another House Republican, Dick Cheney (R-Wyo.), had suggested that committee lawyers were taking too long to interrogate North, and he noted that for almost four days no committee member had asked a question.

But Cohen, a Republican, came to Liman's defense, saying he resisted anything suggesting a "gag order" on the Senate chief counsel. And another Republican, Rep. Henry J. Hyde, a conservative from Illinois, said Liman and House majority counsel John W. Nields Jr., who represents Democrats, were doing "a superb job."

Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.) joined the fray, quoting from McCollum's statement in public session that the activities of North, former national security adviser Robert C. McFarlane and Poindexter "may well be a crime."

A major part of Liman's initial interrogation yesterday dealt with the "bombshell" that blew the Iran-contra affair into a full-blown scandal. This was the diversion of funds to aid the Nicaraguan rebels from a series of U.S.-Iran arms sales in 1986.

In a complex series of questions and answers, Liman attempted to get North to explain the process by which the diversion was approved, with an emphasis on where the president may have been involved.

North said that in January 1986, before any transactions, that he went to his boss at the time, Poindexter, and told him about the idea for diverting funds.

He testified that he specifically told Poindexter that he wanted presidential approval for the high-risk project. Poindexter later told him, "This should never come out," North said.

Later, North prepared five proposals for arms transactions, each one with a paragraph outlining how the funds from that particular sale could be used to help the contras. Three, covering shipments that took place in February, May and October, were approved and each provided surplus funds for the enterprise.

North testified that he believed he had destroyed all copies of the memorandums and told Liman, in answer to questions, that he did not recall whether any had marks showing they had been approved by the president.

During a long series of questions, Liman pressed North to describe the pressure he felt from the president to get the hostages released for possible political reasons. He asked, "Did you regard yourself as having a political objective?"

North responded firmly, "I have no political ambitions whatsoever, I can assure you . . . . I'm not for anything, and I'm certainly not running from anything." Staff researcher Michelle Hall contributed to this report.