and their aides were
of the advisers' activities.When they periodically detectedoperations, they complained ortried to derail them,
show.But no one ever questioned theactivities in a broad way, possiblyout of a belief that the adviserswere operating with presidentialsanction, officials said.Reagan did know of or approveat least some of the actions of
secret group, according to previ-ous accounts by aides, friends andhigh-ranking foreign officials.One such case is the 1985 visitto Libya by William Wilson,
ambassador to the Vati-can and a close Reagan friend, tomeet with Libyan leader Col.
Gadhafi, officials saidlast week. Secretary of StateGeorge Shultz rebuked Wilson,but the officials said Reagan knewof the trip in advance.The heart of the secret structurefrom 1983 to 1986 was North'soffice in the Old Executive OfficeBuilding adjacent to the WhiteHouse, investigators believe.North's influence within thesecret structure was so great, thesources said, that he was able tohave the orbits of sophisticatedsurveillance satellites altered tofollow Soviet ships around theworld,
for the launching ofhigh-flying spy aircraft on secretmissions over Cuba and Nicaraguaand become involved in sensitivedomestic activities.
Others in the structure includedsome of Reagan's closest friendsand advisers, including formernational security adviser WilliamClark, the late
Director Wil-liam Casey and Attorney GeneralEdwin Meese, officials and investi-gators said.Congressional investigators saidthe Iran deal was just one of thegroup's initiatives. They say expo-sure of the unusual arrangementmay be the legacy of their inquiry."After we establish that a policydecision was made at the highestlevels to transfer responsibility forcontra support to the NSC ..., wefavor examining how that decisionwas implemented," wrote ArthurLiman, chief counsel of the Senatecommittee, in a secret memoran-dum to panel leaders Sens. DanielInouye, D-Hawaii, and WarrenRudman,R-N.H., before hearingsbegan May 5."This is the part of the storythat reveals the whole secret
operated from the [Executive Of-fice Building) by a Lt. Col., with
own army, air force, diplomaticagents, intelligence operatives andappropriations capacity," Limanwrote in the memo, parts of whichwere shared with The Herald.A spokesman for Liman declinedcomment but did not dispute thememo's existence.A White House official rejectedthe notion that any of Reagan'sadvisers were operating secretly."The president has constantlyexpressed
foreign policy posi-tions to the public and hasconsulted with the Congress," theofficial said.
Began in 1980
Congressional investigators andcurrent and former officials inter-viewed — members of the CFA,State Department and Pentagon —said they still do not have a fullrecord of the impact of theadvisers' activities.But based on investigations andpersonal experience, they believethe secret governing arrangementtraces its roots to the last weeks ofReagan's
campaign.Officials say the genesis mayhave been an October 1980 deci-sion by Casey, Reagan's campaignmanager and a former officer inthe World War FF precursor of theCIA, to create an October SurpriseGroup to monitor Jimmy Carter'sfeverish negotiations with Iran forthe release of 52 American hostag-
The group, led by campaignforeign policy adviser RichardAllen,was founded out of concernCarter might pull off an "Octobersurprise" such as a last-minute