WASHINGTON -- Former Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger, in an unusual move to try to clear his name, released results yesterday of a polygraph test he passed in which he denied taking part in a cover-up to protect former President Ronald Reagan in the Iran-contra scandal.
In a test administered May 5 by the former chief polygraph examiner for the FBI, Mr. Weinberger also gave "no indication ofdeception" to questions on whether he had lied to government investigators about his possible knowledge of a secret 1985 arms sale to Iran and about his own diary entries during the period.
Mr. Weinberger's lawyer, Robert S. Bennett, also made public a letter from the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Iran-contra committee that said it was "inconceivable to us that he would intentionally mislead or lie to Congress."
Both the test results and the letter from Sens. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, and Warren B. Rudman, R-N.H., have been given to independent counsel Lawrence E. Walsh, Mr. Bennett said.
The polygraph test indicates that Mr. Walsh is investigating three major issues: whether senior Reagan administration officials deliberately attempted to cover up the scandal, whether they lied about their knowledge of a potentially illegal 1985 missile shipment and whether they failed to turn over all relevant documents and notes in the subsequent investigation.
Polygraph test results are not admissible as evidence in federal court, but investigators often use them as tools to determine whether to continue investigation that has not produced sufficient evidence to support an indictment, or to support a case prosecutors believe they can win.
Mr. Weinberger, a former Cabinet officer for Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Reagan, apparently felt it was necessary to arrange for such a test as Mr. Walsh weighs whether to prosecute him. Mr. Walsh's investigators also have been pressing Mr. Weinberger for any incriminating evidence he may have on Mr. Reagan, sources familiar with the investigation said.
"Mr. Weinberger is innocent of any wrongdoing," Mr. Bennett said yesterday. "In fact, he passed a lie detector test given by the former chief polygraph examiner for the FBI, Paul K. Minor."
In the polygraph examination, Mr. Minor, chief FBI examiner from 1978 to 1987, said the five questions asked of Mr. Weinberger "are believed to directly address the issues of concern" to Mr. Walsh's office.
Mr. Walsh appears to be trying to determine whether Mr. Weinberger told the truth when he denied he knew about ( (TC November 1985 shipment of U.S.-made Hawk anti-aircraft missiles from Israel to Iran.