WASHINGTON -- The powerful strains and tensions wrought on the CIA by the Iran-contra affair were thrust into full view yesterday as a former agency official wept on the witness stand as he testified in federal district court against his former superior.
Alan D. Fiers, a tall and rangy one-time football star at Ohio State University and former spy in several dangerous overseas posts, dissolved into tears near the end of his two days of testimony against Clair E. George when he was questioned about their once-close relationship.
Mr. George, who had been the third-most-senior official at the nation's principal spy agency, is charged with lying to Congress and investigators about the agency's knowledge of the Reagan administration's illegal sale of arms to Iran and use of the profits to aid the Nicaraguan rebels, or contras.
Mr. Fiers spent much of the day describing the frantic atmosphere at the agency as it struggled to get its story straight when the facts behind the Iran-contra affair first became public knowledge.
"The pace was rapid-fire," Mr. Fiers testified. He painstakingly described how in one instance Mr. George ordered him to rewrite testimony to Congress so as not to disclose the delivery of military supplies to the contras being run by Lt. Col. Oliver L. North, a National Security Council aide. Mr. Fiers began sobbing when asked to talk about his personal relationship with Mr. George.
Under the direction of the chief prosecutor, Craig E. Gillen, Mr. Fiers began reading the citations that Mr. George wrote about him when he was recommending him for distinguished service awards at the agency. In November 1985, Mr. George, who was deputy director of operations, commended Mr. Fiers for extraordinary service as head of the agency's Central American task force. He was given a $10,000 award.
The next year, after several months of tension at the agency over how to deal with the Iran-contra affair, Mr. George again recommended Mr. Fiers for an award. As Mr. Fiers began reading Mr. George's words -- that he deserved a commendation because he had "turned in a performance which has been an extraordinary tour de force under exceptional conditions" -- he began weeping.
He was barely able to utter the answer to the next question: that he received $20,000 for that award.