Poindexter Submitted to FBI Interview, Almost All Computer Files Destroyed
WASHINGTON (AP) _ John Poindexter told the FBI three days after resigning his White House post that he had ″no working knowledge″ of early Iran arms shipments and ″no direct knowledge″ profits had been diverted to the Nicaraguan Contras, an FBI agent testified at his trial Thursday.
Agent Ellen Glasser also testified that more than 5,000 files were erased from Poindexter’s computer system just before the national security adviser resigned as the Iran-Contra affair was coming to light.
Six months after the Nov. 28, 1986, FBI interview at his home, Poindexter told Congress - in testimony that cannot be used at his trial - that he approved the diversion to the Contras at North’s request and had been involved in a November 1985 shipment of Hawk missiles to Iran.
Glasser, in her testimony, spoke of a ″massive destruction″ of computer messages and provided details of the heretofore undisclosed Poindexter interview that she and another FBI agent conducted.
She said that during that interview Poindexter was asked whether he knew of any destruction of documents pertinent to the investigation of the Iran-Contra affair.
He ″replied that he did not,″ the agent recalled.
Concerning the diversion to the Contras, Glasser testified that Poindexter said he knew ″Ollie North ... was up to something.″
She said she showed Poindexter copies of chronologies on the Iran initiative. The final version compiled by Robert McFarlane, Poindexter’s predecessor as then-President Reagan’s national security adviser, and aide Oliver North concealed the U.S. role in the missile shipment.
Asked whether the documents were accurate, Poindexter ″replied that they were,″ Glasser said. North was convicted last year of aiding and abetting an obstruction of Congress in connection with the chronologies.
Poindexter is accused of concealing from Congress the U.S. role in the missile shipment as well as the North-directed military assistance to the Contras at a time official U.S. aid was banned.
Part of the indictment accuses him of purging his computer files between Nov. 22 and Nov. 29, 1986, in an attempt to conceal information from Congress.
On Nov. 22, there were over 5,000 computer messages in Poindexter’s terminal, but at 9 a.m. on Nov. 24 ″there were zero,″ Glasser testified.
″This massive deletion ... occurred in November 1986,″ she said under cross-examination by Poindexter lawyer Richard Beckler, who suggested the files could have been deleted at some other time.
Poindexter was logged onto the computer system for a 15-hour span Nov. 24, starting at 4:30 a.m., testified Kelly Williams, who was in charge of the computer software section at the White House Communications Agency. That was the day before Poindexter resigned.
Williams said Poindexter’s identification code was the one used to gain access to the computer when the files were deleted.
Prosecutor Louise Radin asked if deleting the files would be comparable to ″taking a manila envelope and just throwing it away?″
″Yes, that would be the effect,″ Williams replied.
A total of 732 notes were deleted from North’s own computer files about the same time Poindexter’s system was cleared out, Williams said. Only one of North’s computer files remained.
Copies of Poindexter’s and North’s files were recovered from backup tapes at the NSC’s computer system and have been instrumental in tracing the Iran- Contra affair.
Earlier in the day, prosecutor Dan Webb said he could complete his case against Poindexter as early as Monday because North’s four days of testimony ″cut off two or three weeks″ from the prosecution’s work.
Webb said North’s testimony, which ended Wednesday, went well and that the government got ″a lot″ out of the former White House aide.
North testified that Poindexter told him he could ″take care of″ an upcoming meeting with members of Congress. North lied at the meeting by denying he was assisting the Nicaraguan rebels.
North also testified that he saw Poindexter tear up a politically embarrassing presidential document. The document, called a finding, retroactively authorized the shipment of missiles to Iran.