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Jimmy Carter Rips Reagan Over Iran-Contra Affair

February 12, 1987 GMT

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) _ Former President Jimmy Carter says President Reagan has mishandled the Iran-Contra affair and is ″making believe he’s telling the truth″ to the American people about it.

Carter, who lost the presidency to Reagan in 1980 in part because of his own Iran hostage crisis, criticized his successor Wednesday for sending arms to Iran in hopes of winning the release of Americans held captive in Lebanon.

″We never considered, of course, paying any kind of ransom,″ Carter said. ″We never delivered any weapons or any benefits to Ayatollah Khomeini.

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″We never misled the American people about what had happened,″ he said. ″There was nothing to cover up.″

Carter said he thinks most Americans don’t believe Reagan is telling the truth, adding that he’s skeptical himself.

″I think he has a very convenient memory,″ he said. ″He seems to have an inability to remember things that aren’t pleasant. My guess is he’s making believe he’s telling the truth.″

One of the hostages taken in Lebanon, William Buckley, was killed during his captivity. Carter noted that no hostages died during his crisis, which began with the occupation of the embassy in Tehran in November 1979 and ended 444 days later, the day Reagan was inaugurated.

Carter criticized Reagan for not ordering former National Security Council officials Vice Adm. John Poindexter and Lt. Col. Oliver North to tell investigators all they know about the sale of arms to Iran and subsequent diversion of profits to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

″It’s been a very serious tragedy of errors and it’s continuing,″ he said.