Just days after the Tower review board convened to look into the Iran-Contra affair, Vice President Bush asked to tell the group what he knew. On Dec. 18, l986, Bush appeared before the board. Notes were taken by board counsel W. Clark McFadden, and the board's members later confirmed their accuracy. The notes -- previously not released -- said:

"He {Bush} did have a general knowledge of arms sales to Iran as a result of attendance at various briefings on the hostages and the so-called 9:00 a.m. meeting with the president."

"The vice president acknowledged that there were discussions with the president and the vice president regarding the TOW {anti-tank} missiles {transferred to Iran}. He did not recall any discussions regarding the Hawk {anitaircraft} missiles and the Hawk parts being returned {other weapons shipped secretly to Iran} . . .

"There was little mechanism for debriefing people on what happened about the Irnaian operation. According to the vice president, this was in contrast to the bombing of Libya, which was well organized and formalized. The Iran arms transfer, on the other hand, was more up and down with the hostage problem blended in."

In an autobiography Bush published late last year, he wrote:

"What I knew was that, working through the Israelis, an effort had been made to 'reach out' to one of the Iranian factions, that there had been a weapons sale, and that in some way, the hostage issue had become part of the project."

In an interview last August with The Washington Post, Bush said:

"We were not in the loop."

In his appearance before the Tower board, Bush was asked "how it was that in early 1986, the president could have acted contrary to the advice of Mssrs. {National Security Advisor Robert C.} McFarlane, {Secretary of State George P.} Shultz and {Defense Secretary Caspar W.} Weinberger about arms to Iran?" According to the board's notes:

"The vice president allowed that he found it difficult to imagine that the president should go forward in the{se} circumstances. Nevertheless that he noted that the president often 'holds things pretty tight'."

Regarding Lt. Col. Oliver L. North, the NSC staff officer who played an instrumental role in the secret Iran-contra dealings, Bush told the Tower board:

"A good man; but if only half the allegations about him are true, he has run amok. His judgments were never checked. Mr. Bush stated that the president and he must accept responsibility for this failure."

Bush told The Post in August:

"I think he {North} was motivated by high purpose, not any selfishness, not any venality. And I expect he'd probably concede he made some mistakes, but I think the way he took the case to the American people was a marvelous thing. He got a lot of support, and I can understand why, in those {Iran-contra} hearings."