Recently released memos and depositions by the staff of Vice President Bush raise more questions than they answer about his role in the Iran-contra scandal. And there is still more evidence that has not yet been released by the Senate and House investigating committees.
Now the memo has been released, confirming our reports. The memo, dated April 30, 1986, was released by the Iran-contra committees along with an April 16 "schedule proposal." Both describe the purpose of a Bush appointment with CIA agent Felix Rodriguez as being to brief the vice president "on the status of the war in El Salvador and resupply of the contras."
Rodriguez and Gregg have been friends since they both worked at the Central Intelligence Agency. At the time he was meeting with Bush, Gregg and other aides, Rodriguez was visiting El Salvador frequently as a "counterinsurgency expert." He was also working with National Security Council aide Oliver L. North on the clandestine White House effort to resupply the Nicaraguan contras.
Bush has steadfastly maintained that, in three different meetings, he and Rodriguez never discussed the contra-supply efforts. Bush's aides have had to amend their recollections of meetings with Rodriguez as more information has come to light that supplying the contras was discussed far earlier than any of them acknowledged when the scandal first broke last November.
In an 83-page deposition Gregg made last May, he admitted knowing by August 1986 that Rodriguez was working with Marine Lt. Col. North on the secret contra aid operation. Gregg also says he knew that North and Rodriguez had fallen out over North's use of former associates of Edwin P. Wilson, the renegade CIA agent in prison for arms smuggling to Libya. Gregg's handwritten notes of one conversation with Rodriguez state that the CIA agent told him North was "using Ed Wilson group for supplies."
Gregg said he had no idea that money for the contras had come from U.S. arms sales to Iran. He said he thought it came from North's "informal private network."
Gregg also swore that he had never discussed any of that with Bush. "I spend a great deal of my time trying to send things to the vice president that I think are really vice presidential," he said in his deposition. "I try to keep him focused, help him keep focused on arms control or Mideast peace or things of that nature. We had never discussed the contras. We had no responsibility for it. We had no expertise in it."
Gregg said he had no idea how the reference to Rodriguez discussing "resupply of the contras" found its way into Bush's briefing book, and he said that the subject did not come up at the meeting on May 1, 1986.
In two depositions, Gregg's secretary, Phyllis Byrne, said that she remembered typing the phrase onto both the briefing memo and the schedule proposal from information given to her by Bush aide Col. Samuel J. Watson III. But Watson swore that he gave her no such information, although he acknowledged that she is an efficient secretary who types only what is provided by others.