WASHINGTON -- The following are highlights of President Reagan's nationally televised address Wednesday night:
Iran arms policy
Reagan acknowledged that, while he had told the American people 'I did not trade arms for hostages' and 'my heart and my best intentions tell me that is true, the facts and the evidence tell it is not.'
'As the Tower Board reported,' he said, 'what began as a strategic opening to Iran deteriorated in its implementation into trading arms for hostages.
'There are reasons why it happened,' he added, 'but no excuses. It was a mistake.' He said he was still upset that no one kept proper records and that led 'to my failure to recollect whether I approved an arms shipment before or after the fact. I did approve it. I just can't say specifically when. Rest assured, there's plenty of record-keeping now going on at 1600 Pennsylvania.'
Contra diversion scheme
The president noted the Tower Commission 'was not able to find out what happened' to the Iran arms sale profits allegedly diverted to the Contras and 'the facts here will be left to the continuing investigations of the court-appointed independent counsel and the two congressional investigating committees.'
'I'm confident the truth will come out about this matter as well. As I told the Tower Board, I didn't know about any diversion of funds to the Contras. But as president, I cannot escape responsibility.'
American hostages in Beirut
Reagan said part of the reason for the scandal was that 'I let my personal concern for the hostages spill over into the geopolitical strategy of reaching out to Iran.'
He told the hostage families 'we have not given up. We never will. And I promise you we'll use every legitimate means to free your loved ones from captivity.' But he cautioned other Americans in dangerous places that 'they must know that they're responsible for their own safety.'
Reagan said he has 'paid a price for my silence' in terms of the trust and confidence of the American people, adding: 'But I have had to wait, as have you, for the complete story.'
He said he was 'relieved' to read a sentence in the Tower report that said the board is 'convinced that the president does indeed want the full story to be told.' --- Management style Reagan said his hands-off management style had worked well when he was governor of California and for most of his presidency but said 'when it came to managing the NSC staff, let's face it, my style didn't match its previous track record.' He said he told the staff 'there'll be no more freelancing by individuals when it comes to our national security.'
Reagan said he has ordered a 'comprehensive review of all covert operations' and directed that any covert activity be 'in compliance with American values.'
He said he has issued a directive 'prohibiting the NSC staff itself from undertaking any covert actions -- no if's, and's or but's' and promised 'to make the congressional oversight process work' not only 'in letter but in spirit.'
Reagan noted he has already made several staff changes, naming former Sen. Howard Baker as his new chief of staff, FBI Director William Webster to be the new head of the CIA and Frank Carlucci to direct the National Security Council staff. He also said he had appointed former Sen. John Tower, R-Texas, to the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
Outlook for remainder of term
After a mistake, Reagan said, 'You take your knocks. You learn your lessons. And then you move on.' He said he has gotten the message from Republicans and Democrats, U.S. allies and, 'if we're reading the signals right, even from the Soviets' to move on and that is what he intends to do. 'I have a great deal I want to accomplish with you and for you over the next two years.'