He praised the president for his "totalcooperation" with the inquiry and said "the onlyU.S. officials who knew of the diversion wereAdmiral Poindexter, Colonel North and possiblyDirector Casey." William L. Casey, the director ofthe CIA, died in May.
Rudman singled out Poindexter for specialcondemnation.
"It is clear that Admiral Poindexter attemptedto deny the State Department, the DefenseDepartment and White House staff the informationnecessary to enable them to engage in a review,"he said. "With the exception of AdmiralPoindexter, every high-level U.S. official whotestified stated that Admiral Poindexter did nothave the authority to approve the diversion; thatthe diversion was improper and possibly illegaland that the president would not have approved ofthe diversion had he been consulted."
Rudman said that when the possibility ofexposure arose last November, the NSC staffattempted a cover-up, which "included shredding ofofficial documents, lying to the attorney generaland his representatives and withholdinginformation from the president."
Of North and Poindexter, who garnered strongsupport around the country when they testified,Rudman said their actions "cannot be justified bypassion, patriotism, appropriate concern over theexpansion of communism in Central America andlegitimate display and the policies enacted byCongress."
Other lawmakers also took a dim view of theaffair.
"Democracy cannot withstand the damages ofpolicies that are based on lies and deceit," saidSen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.). He said there wereindividuals prepared to act "outside theconstitutional process to achieve their ends, andof course that path leads to the subverting ofdemocracy."
Said Sen. William Cohen (R-Maine):
"A central lesson is that democracy must beprotected against its friends as well as itsenemies and that the law may be equally violatedwhen people act out of patriotic passion and zealas when they act with contempt and calculateddisrespect and disregard for the politicalprocess."
A committee source, speaking only on conditionof not being named, said the cost of thehearings--excluding such expenses as security,utilities and remodeling of office space in theCapitol complex--would probably reach $3 millionto $4 million by the time the panels' work iscompleted