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WASHINGTON--Former national security adviser Robert C. McFarlane, who figured prominently in President Reagan's clandestine sale of weapons to Iran, was hospitalized yesterday for a Valium overdose that a broadcast report said was a suicide attempt.
But McFarlane's lawyer, Leonard Garment, said "neither I nor the sources of the report can know what Bud McFarlane's intentions were."
Garment called the story "the most irresponsible and obscene piece of sourcing and reporting I've heard of in my whole professional life."
The lawyer said he had not talked withMcFarlane since last Friday. But, he said, expertson the drug believed it was virtually impossibleto commit suicide with Valium.
"Bud McFarlane has served his country long andfaithfully, and never with greater distinctionthan by coming forward and being the only one togive a full story, under oath and without accessto a single page of his official record, of theIranian arms sale," Garment said. "I am sure thecountry will simply wish him well."
McFarlane, 49, was admitted to Bethesda NavalMedical Center about 8 a.m. Hospital spokesman Lt.Rus Sanford said McFarlane was in good condition.
Peter Morgan, one of McFarlane's lawyers, saidthe former White House official had taken anoverdose of the drug, a tranquilizer that isfrequently prescribed to relieve anxiety disordersand tension resulting from stress.
CBS News, quoting unnamed, informed sources,reported that hospital officials believed theoverdose resulted from a suicide attempt. CBS,citing unnamed friends, of McFarlane, alsoreported that he had been depressed and emotionalrecently.
Morgan, reached by telephone after the reporthad aired, said he would have no comment.
Presidential spokesman Marlin Fitzwater notedthat McFarlane is a private citizen and said, "Wedon't have any information on his condition."
Lt. Gail Fetterman, a spokesman for thehospital, said he knew nothing about the CBSreport or about McFarlane. Fetterman referred allinquiries to Sanford, who he said had left for theday and could not be reached.
Cable News Network, citing unnamed policesources, said McFarlane took 20-to-30 Valium pillsof unspecified strength.
However, Montgomery Country Police spokesmanGeorge Luddington said the department had noinformation on McFarlane.
Symptoms of a Valium overdose can includesleepiness, confusion, diminished reflexes,depressed blood pressure or coma, and treatmentincludes close observation and administeringintravenous fluids, according to medical referencebooks.
The authoritative Physicians' Desk Referencesaid that because Valium use can result inphysical or psychological dependence, patientsshould be monitored closely and prolonged useshould be avoided. It was not known when McFarlanebegan using Valium, a trade name for the drugdiazepam.
John Henshaw, a McFarlane aide, said, "He hadapparently an adverse reaction to a prescribedmedication he took... He's in good condition. He'sawake, under observation."
Henshaw said McFarlane's wife, Jonny, was withhim at the hospital.
McFarlane is a former Marine lieutenant coloneland combat veteran, which permits him to use theNavy's medical facilities near his home insuburban Maryland.
He was the second major figure in theIran-Contra controversy to be hospitalized. CIADirector William J. Casey underwent surgery for amalignant brain tumor and resigned his post lastweek.
McFarlane flew to Tehran, Iran, last May with aplane load of U.S. weapons and--according toHashemi Rafsanjani, speaker of the Iranianparliament--a Bible, signed by Reagan.
The former national security adviser to Reagansaid recently he had hoped that his secret missionto Tehran would result in the release of Americanhostages held in Lebanon by pro-Iranian extremists
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