1986: On This Day in History, Oliver North feeds Iran-Contra documents into shredding machine

National Security Council staff member Oliver North and his secretary, Fawn Hall, begin shredding documents that would have exposed their participation in a range of illegal activities regarding the sale of arms to Iran and the diversion of the proceeds to a rebel Nicaraguan group.

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On this 21st day of November in 1986, National Security Council staff member Oliver North and his secretary, Fawn Hall, begin shredding documents that would have exposed their participation in a range of illegal activities regarding the sale of arms to Iran and the diversion of the proceeds to a rebel Nicaraguan group.

On November 25, North was fired but Hall continued to sneak documents to him by stuffing them in her skirt and boots.

The Iran-Contra scandal, as it came to be known, became an embarrassment and a sticky legal problem for the Reagan administration.

Only six years earlier, Iran had become an enemy of the United States after taking hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

At the time, Ronald Reagan had repeatedly insisted that the United States would never deal with terrorists. When the revelation surfaced that his top officials at the National Security Council had begun selling arms to Iran, it was a public relations disaster.

During the televised Iran-Contra hearings, the public learned that the money received for the arms was sent to support the Contras in Nicaragua, despite Congress’ Boland Amendment, which expressly prohibited U.S. assistance to the Contras.

Though the communist Sandinistas had been legitimately elected in Nicaragua, the Reagan administration sought to oust them by supporting the Contras, an anti-Communist group.

During the Iran-Contra hearings, North claimed that the entire Reagan administration had known about the illegal plan. After admitting that he had lied to Congress, he was convicted of shredding documents, obstruction of justice, and illegally receiving a security fence for his own residence. He received a light sentence of a fine, probation, and community service.

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A year later in July 1990, an appellate court voted 2-1 to overturn his conviction based on the possibility that some of the evidence may have come from testimony that Congress had immunized in their own hearings on the matter. President Reagan and Vice President George Bush maintained that they had no knowledge of the scheme.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. One must assume North was working under orders from higher ups just as many military officers and enlisted men are today illegally in Syria and all over the planet. He had a distinguished service in Viet Nam and all charges against him were dismissed. This is our system like it or not. Here is a quote from his Wikipedia article:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_North
    “North served as a platoon commander during the Vietnam War, where during his combat service, he was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star Medal, and two Purple Heart medals.[6] At the time of his Silver Star, Second Lieutenant North was a Platoon Commander leading his Marines in Operation Virginia Ridge. North led a counter assault against the North Vietnamese Army, as his platoon took on heavy machine gun fire and rocket propelled grenades. Throughout the battle, North displayed “courage, dynamic leadership and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of grave personal danger”.[7]”…
    “After further hearings on the immunity issue, Judge Gesell dismissed all charges against North on September 16, 1991.[30]”

  2. A psychologist who works in geriatric care told me that Reagan exhibited the symptoms of dementia during most of his second term, so he may well not of known what was going on.

    On the other hand, de facto (during the last 7 years of the Reagan administration) president GHW Bush certainly knew about and most likely directed much of the criminal activity.

  3. “…to a rebel Nicaraguan group…”

    The Contras were as much of a rebel group as the (not so – they got a lot of our tax money) Free Syrian Army.

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