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Sophia Casey Blasts Bob Woodward’s Account Of Her Husband

September 28, 1987 GMT

ROSLYN HARBOR, N.Y. (AP) _ The wife of the late CIA Director William Casey on Sunday challenged journalist Bob Woodward’s claim that Casey admitted on his deathbed that he knew of the diversion of funds to the Contras.

″He’s lying about that,″ Sophia Casey said of Woodward’s account. Woodward issued a statement saying he stood by his version of the story.

Woodward claims in his forthcoming book, ″Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA,″ that Casey told him on his sickbed that he knew about the diversion of funds obtained from arms sales to the Iranians. The money went to the Contra rebels seeking to overthrow the leftist Nicaraguan government.

Mrs. Casey also challenged Woodward’s depiction of her husband as a man who ″found (President) Reagan strange″ and felt that Reagan seemed to be ″lazy and distracted.″

″It’s absolute blasphemy. My husband loved the president,″ she said, adding that she was outraged when she read that Woodward wrote her husband was ″struck by the overall passivity of the president.″

″That’s very, very bad,″ she said. ″It’s been very hurtful. It is terrible for the family.″

Casey died May 6 of pneumonia after suffering from brain cancer.

U.S. News & World Report, which obtained an advance copy of the book published by Simon & Schuster, said Woodward visted Casey in the hospital ″and asked, almost rhetorically, whether he knew all along about the Contra diversion.″

″Casey nooded a frail yes,″ the report says.

But Mrs. Casey said she is confident that Woodward never got to Casey on his sickbed.

″He was never in the hospital,″ she said. ″I am refuting that Bob Woodward got into the hospital to see Mr. Casey.″

Woodward, an assistant managing editor at The Washington Post, issued a one-sentence statement through the newspaper Sunday afternoon, saying of the hospital visit, ″I stand behind that and everything in the book.″

She said family members were with Casey constantly when he was hospitalized in Washington and on Long Island and that Secret Service security officers were posted at his bedroom door and the elevator door around the clock.

″They were always just watching that room,″ she said.

Distraught over newspaper accounts of the book, Mrs. Casey said she checked with CIA security officials and was told that records show that ″on Jan. 22, Bob Woodward got in and was caught by security and was thrown out″ before he got to Casey’s room.

″On top of that, he (Casey) could not speak,″ she said. ″His voice was paralyzed.″

In a later interview with AP Radio, however, Mrs. Casey said he husband was barely able to speak.

″He didn’t speak well...″ she said. ″His voice constantly got worse, but he didn’t use an unnecessary word. He’d just say what he had to do: ‘yes,’ ‘no’ and stuff like that.″

She said she suspects Woodward made up the account because he failed to gain access to the former CIA chief on Jan. 22.

″He was thwarted and it was probably a blow to him,″ she said.

″He wouldn’t talk about it to Woodward,″ Mrs. Casey told AP Radio. ″He felt Woodward was inferior to his own intelligence. Even his book is so unintelligent, it’s just all gossip.″

In an interview broadcast Sunday on ″60 Minutes,″ Woodward said he was allowed to visit Casey a few days after the Jan. 22 incident. The meeting lasted only four minutes, Woodward said, and was arranged by a contact he refused to name.

Mrs. Casey said she was disappointed that Woodward depicted himself in the book as Casey’s friend.

″We did not have any friendly relationship which he portrayed in the book. It’s so completely false,″ she said, adding that she had not seen the book yet but only read newspaper accounts. ″We saw him at public receptions in Washington.″

Still, Mrs. Casey said she could not shed any light on what her husband knew about when he directed the CIA.

″I knew nothing about his government life,″ she said. ″It was very secretive and he would never tell me.″

Mrs. Casey said that next week, she will send $130,000 from the Casey Fund for the Nicaraguan Freedom Fighters to the Contras. She started the fund just days after Casey’s death because she said the subject was so dear to her husband.