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tv   Iran- Contra Investigation Day 25  CSPAN  July 8, 2017 10:31pm-12:00am EDT

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lt. colonol oliver north
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investigating the iran contra affair. he begins with a 20 minute opening statement. made of record indicate the select committees of the house and senate receive a statement, the opening statement of colonel north. this statement, pursuant to the rules, has been examined and determined there are no inadvertent disclosures of classified material, further,
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that we are satisfied that the statement does not exceed the bounds set forth by the court in the grant of immunity, and although the statement obviously exceeds ten minutes, we will not insist upon a summary of it. and if the colonel wishes to present his opening statement at this time, he may do so in total. lt. col. north: thank you, mr. chairman. chairman inouye: please proceed. lt. col. north: as you all know by now, my name is oliver north, lieutenant colonel, united states marine corps. my best friend is my wife betsy, to whom i have been married for 19 years, and with whom i have had four wonderful children, aged 18, 16, 11and 6.i came to the national security council six years ago to work in the administration of a great president.
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as a staff member, i came to understand his goals and his desires. i admired his policies, his strength, and his ability to bring our country together. i observed the president to be a leader who cared deeply about people, and who believed that the interests of our country were advanced by recognizing that ours is a nation at risk and dangerous world, and acting accordingly. he tried, and in my opinion succeeded, in advancing the cause of world peace by strengthening our country, by acting to restore and sustain democracy throughout the world, and by having the courage to take decisive action when needed. i also believe that we must guard against a rather perverse side of american life, and that is the tendency to launch vicious attacks and criticism against our elected officials. president reagan has made enormous contributions, and he deserves our respect and admiration.
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the national security council is, in essence, the president's staff. it helps to formulate and coordinate national security policy. some, perhaps on this committee, believe that the nsc was devoid of experienced leadership. i believe that is wrong. while at the nsc, i worked most closely with three people: mr. robert c: mcfarlane, admiral john poindexter, and cia director, william casey. bud mcfarlane is a man who devoted nearly thirty-year of his life to public service in a number of responsible positions. at the nsc, he worked long hours, made great contributions, and i admire him for those efforts. admiral poindexter is a distinguished naval officer who served in a number of important positions of responsibility. he, too, was a tireless worker with a similar record of public service, and i, too, admire him greatly. william casey was a renowned
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lawyer, a war veteran of heroic proportions, and a former chairman of the sec. i understood that he was also a close personal friend and adviser to president reagan. there is a nearly a century of combined public service by these three men. as a member of the nsc staff, i knew that i held a position of responsibility. but i knew full well what my position was. i did not engage in fantasy that i was the president or vice president or cabinet member, or even director of the national security council. i was simply a staff member with a demonstrated ability to get the job done. over time, i was made responsible for managing a number of complex and sensitive covert operations that we have discussed here to date. i reported directly to mr. mcfarlane and to admiral poindexter. i coordinated directly with others, including director casey. my authority to act always flowed, i believe, from my superiors.
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my military training inculcated in me a strong belief in the chain of command. and so far as i can recall, i always acted on major matter with specific approval, after informing my superiors of the facts, as i knew them, the risks, and the potential benefits. i readily admit that i was action-oriented, that i took pride in the fact that i was counted upon as a man who got the job done. and i don't mean this by way of criticism, but there were occasions when my superiors, confronted with accomplishing goals or difficult tasks, would simply say, "fix it, ollie," or, "take care of it." since graduating from the naval academy in 1968, i have strived to be the best marine officer that one can be. in combat, my goal was always to understand the objective, follow orders, accomplish the mission, and to keep alive the men who served under me.
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one of the good things that has come from the last seven months of worldwide notoriety has been the renewed contact that i've had with some of the finest people in the world -- those with whom i served in vietnam. among the 50,000 or so messages of support that have arrived since i left the nsc are many from those who recount the horrors we lived through, and who now relate stories of their families and careers. after vietnam, i worked with my fellow officers to train good marines to be ready in case we were called upon elsewhere in the world, but at the same time to hope that we never were. i honestly believed that any soldier who has ever been to a war truly hopes he will never see one again. my marine corps career was untracked in 1981, when i was detailed to the national security council.
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i was uneasy at the beginning, but i came to believe that it was important work, and as years passed and responsibilities grew, i got further from that which i loved, the marine corps and marines. during 1984, '85, and '86, there were periods of time when we worked two days in every one. my guess is that the average workday lasted at least 14 hours. to respond to various crises, the need for such was frequent, and we would often go without a night's sleep, hoping to recoup the next night or thereafter. if i had to estimate the number of meetings and discussions and phone calls over that five years, it would surely be in the tens of thousands. my only real regret is that i virtually abandoned my family for work during these years, and that work consisted of my first few years on the staff, as the project officer for a highly classified and compartmented national security project, which is not a part of this inquiry.
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i worked hard on the political military strategy for restoring and sustaining democracy in central america, and in particular, el salvador. we sought to achieve the democratic outcome in nicaragua that this administration still supports, which involved keeping the contras together in both body and soul. we made efforts to open a new relationship with iran, and recover our hostages. we worked on the development of a concerted policy regarding terrorists and terrorism and a capability for dealing in a concerted manner with that threat. we worked on various crises, such as twa 847, the capture of achille lauro, the rescue of american students in grenada and the restoration of democracy on that small island, and the us raid in libya in response to their terrorist attacks.
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and, as some may be willing to admit, there were efforts made to work with the congress on legislative programs. there were many problems. i believed that we worked as hard awe could to solve them, and sometimes we succeeded, and sometimes we failed, but at least we tried, and i want to tell you that i, for one, will never regret having tried. i believe that this is a strange process that you are putting me and others through. apparently, the president has chosen not to assert his prerogatives, and you have been permitted to make the rules. you called before you the officials of the executive branch. you put them under oath for what must be collectively thousands of hours of testimony. you dissect that testimony to find inconsistencies and declare some to be truthful and others to be liars. you make the rulings as to what is proper and what is not proper.
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you put the testimony which you think is helpful to your goals up before the people and leave others out. it's sort of like a baseball game in which you are both the player and the umpire. it's a game in which you call the balls and strikes and where you determine who is out and who is safe. and in the end you determine the score and declare yourselves the winner. from where i sit, it is not the fairest process. one thing is, i think, for certain -- that you will not investigate yourselves in this matter. there is not much chance that you will conclude at the end of these hearings that the boland amendments and the frequent policy changes therefore were unwise or that your restrictions should not have been imposed on the executive branch. you are not likely to conclude that the administration acted properly by trying to sustain the freedom fighters in nicaragua when they were abandoned, and you are not likely to conclude by commending the president of the united states who tried valiantly to
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recover our citizens and achieve an opening that is strategically vital -- iran. i would not be frank with you if i did not admit that the last several months have been difficult for me and my family. it has-been difficult to be on the front pages of every newspaper in the land day after day, to be the lead story on national television day after day, to be photographed thousands of times by bands of photographers who chase us around since november just because my name arose at the hearings. it is difficult to be caught in the middle of a constitutional struggle between the executive and legislative branches over who will formulate and direct the foreign policy of this nation. it is difficult to be vilified by people in and out of this body, some who have proclaimed that i am guilty of criminal conduct even before they heard me.
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others have said that i would not tell the truth when i came here to testify, and one member asked a person testifying before this body whether he would believe me under oath. i asked when i got here -- if you don't believe me, why call me at all. it has been difficult to see questions raised about my character and morality, my honesty, because only partial evidence was provided. and, as i indicated yesterday, i think it was insensitive of this committee to place before the cameras my home address at a time when my family and i are under 24-hour armed guard by over a dozen government agents of the naval investigative service because of fear that terrorists will seek revenge for my official acts and carry out their announced intentions to kill me. it is also difficult to
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comprehend that my work at the nsc -- all of which was approved and carried out in the best interests of our country -- has led to two massive parallel investigations staffed by over 200 people. it is mind-boggling to me that one of those investigations is criminal and that some here have attempted to criminalize policy differences between co-equal branches of government and the executive's conduct of foreign affairs. i believe it is inevitable that the congress will in the end blame the executive branch, but i suggest to you that it is the congress which must accept at least some of the blame in the nicaraguan freedom fighters' matter. plain and simple, the congress is to blame because of the fickle, vacillating, unpredictable, on-again off-again policy toward the nicaraguan democratic resistance
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-- these-called contras. i do not believe that the support of the nicaraguan freedom fighters can be treated as the passage of a budget. i suppose that if the budget doesn't get passed on time again this year, it will be inevitably another extension of another month or two. but, the contras, the nicaraguan freedom fighters are people -- living, breathing, young men and women who have had to suffer a desperate struggle for liberty with sporadic and confusing support from the united states of america. armies need food and consistent help. they need a flow of money, of arms, clothing and medical supplies. the congress of the united states allowed the executive to encourage them, to do battle, and then abandoned them. the congress of the united
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states left soldiers in the field unsupported and vulnerable to their communist enemies. when the executive branch did everything possible within the law to prevent them from being wiped out by moscow's surrogates in havana and managua, you then had this investigation to blame the problem on the executive branch. it does not make sense to me. in my opinion, these hearings have caused serious damage to our national interests. our adversaries laugh at us, and our friends recoil in horror. i suppose it would be one thing if the intelligence committees wanted to hear all of this in private and thereafter pass laws which in the view of congress make for better policies or better functioning government. but, to hold them publicly for the whole world to see strikes me as very harmful. not only does it embarrass our friends and allies with whom we have worked, many of whom have helped us in various programs, but it must also make them very wary of helping us again. i believe that these hearings, perhaps unintentionally so, have revealed matters of great
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secrecy in the operation of our government. and sources and methods of intelligence activities have clearly been revealed to the detriment of our security. as a result of rumor and speculation and innuendo, i have been accused of almost every crime imaginable. wild rumors have abounded. some media reports have suggested that i was guilty of espionage for the way i handled us intelligence. some have said that i was guilty of treason, and suggested in front of my 11 year old daughter, that i should be given the death penalty. some said i stole 10 million dollars. some said i was second only in power to the president of the united states, and others that i condoned drug-trafficking to generate funds for the contras, or that i personally ordered assassinations, or that i was conducting my own foreign policy. it has even been suggested that i was the personal confidant of the president of the united states. these and many other stories are
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patently untrue. i don't mind telling you that i'm angry that what some have attempted to do to me and my family. i believe that these committee hearing will show that you have struck some blows. but, i am going to walk from here with my head high and my shoulders straight because i am proud of what we accomplished. i am proud of the efforts that we made, and i am proud of the fight that we fought. i am proud of serving the administration of a great president. i am not ashamed of anything in my professional or personal conduct. as we go through this process i ask that you continue to please keep an open mind. please be open minded, and able to admit that, perhaps, your preliminary conclusions about me were wrong. and please, also, do not mistake my attitude for lack of respect.
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i am in awe of this great institution just as i am in awe of the presidency. both are equal branches of government with separate areas of responsibility under the constitution that i have taken an oath to support and defend, and i have done so, as many of you have. and although i do not agree with what you are doing, or the way that it is being done, i do understand your interest in obtaining the facts and i have taken an oath to tell the truth and helping you to do so. in closing, mr. chairman, and i thank you for this opportunity, i would just simply like to thank the tens of thousands of americans who have communicated their support, encouragement and prayers for me and my family in this difficult time. thank you, sir. chairman inouye: thank you very much, colonel north. i wish the record to show that the panel did not amend,
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delete or strike out any word, or words -- or phrases from this opening statement. furthermore, we did not put on testimony words which we thought were helpful to our goals and leave the rest out. i am certain you will agree with me, colonel, that every word you wanted to present to the people of the united states was presented. isn't that correct, sir? lt. col. north: yes, mr. chairman it was, and i was not referring to my testimony but that which preceded me, sir -- about me. chairman inouye: and secondly, you have suggested that these hearings have disclosed matters of great secrecy in the operation of our government and sources and methods of intelligence activities have clearly been revealed to the detriment of our national security. may i, once again, advise you that according to the director of the national security agency, general odom, not a single bit
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of classified material has been leaked by activities of this joint panel. questioning will be resumed by -- in theyou read last six months? i did reviewh: them in counsel. >> did you find any conversations you had with -- admiralnts dexter poindexter? lt. col. north: i do not recall. referred to the fact that you provided some $20 to us. the fact of the matter is those the five orinclude
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six divers and memos -- diversion memos you had written in the course of 1986. memos wererth: contained in documents on a typewriter. there were no typewritten pages in the books i gave you. --, and youth: decide -- and you try to destroy them all? -- >> and you tried to destroy them all? you believed in good faith that you had gotten rid of a memorandum that you referred to. is that so? that is correct. and to amplify that the two could have well been destroyed at that time. is the very most
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that may have been left in the waning days of my 10 year may well have been just of three. that is why when the question was asked yesterday or the day before about how many memos i destroyed in those closing days i couldn't tell you because i honestly don't remember. >> there were five memos, and what you are saying now is two may have in destroyed at the time of those transactions and occur and the other three would have been destroyed later. havee one memo that you do was a transaction that did go through. something ore prepared a memo on some thing that was not done, i would destroy that memo at time the decision was made not to proceed. obviously there was still a memo remaining in the files that
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pertain to a transaction which did not occur. it referred to an april plan those never implemented. >> there were three other transactions that did go through, of which there are no memorandum that you are aware of. and those are the ones that have been destroyed. at the time that you gave admiral poindexter this assurance you believe in good ofth that no record existed the diversion you had written, is that correct? >> i assured to thet all references sale of arms as it related to the neck walk when debts to the nicaraguan -- as it related to the neck rock and -- as it related to the nicaraguan ends have destroyed.
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and i also believed all of the notes, which are now in stacks all over wash them have also been destroyed. >> after you were dismissed, did admiral poindexter call you and that he confirmed he would give you authority? i honestly don't recall a conversation with admiral poindexter when i was. he may have called. did you recall any conversation with him in which he said, colonel north, don't worry, even if you destroy all the documents i will stand up and say i approved it? lt. col. north: i recall no such commerce station. >> once the documents were destroyed you were out there without any kind of assurance
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that anyone would stand and you? lt. col. north: that was the plan. it was planned that i would be out there. and everything had gone according to plan up until 12 of five in the afternoon the next day or several days thereafter. >> when the plan changed is when you had the criminal investigation announced. know in north: i don't who else's mind the plan changed. i know when i heard the words criminal investigation or in a presshavior conference or shortly thereafter was certainly profound, that my mind that changed considerably. i think if you will indulge me for a second, over the 5.5 years
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i served on the staff, i hope as i test i'm hear today i saw every possible means to do what needed to be done within the law. gone in extremis to run away to live within this -- live within the constraints. and working with various lawyers and various counsel to the line a way to implement a policy that started without my acquiescence or support or direction or anything else and work very hard to find legal ways to carry out the policy of the president. and there was probably not another person on the planet who was as shocked as i was to hear that someone thought it was criminal. tell you that shock was compounded when i heard later there was to be an independent counsel.
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and further compounded when i was the only name in the appointment order for that counsel. the only person on the planet earth named in that appointment order counsel. colonel, if the investigation by the council had not been instituted, if you hadn't heard the words criminal, would you still be sticking by the cover story? i will not press it, it is hypothetical. >> we don't have to get the chair involved. >> you testify the case he proved this. >> i consulted with director
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casey. director casey was very enthusiastic about the whole program. and advocated that. >> when you met with the on they general afternoon of the 23rd of november, he asked you about the divergent, correct? lt. col. north: he asked me specifically about that memorandum. >> and is it true that he asked who knew about the fact that proceeds from the sale of iranian arms would be used to support the contras? lt. col. north: i think he may well have. i'm not entirely clear. until until early in
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the morning. have.ose he may well i do not have detail specific of that. >> do you recall if you told them if admiral poindexter new. do you recall that you did not tell the attorney general of the united states that director casey knew. lt. col. north: i don't recall that i didn't. >> wasn't part of the plan of that stage that you would not name director casey. had alwaysrth: it
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been part of the plan director casey would know nothing of the support to the nicaraguan resistance. >> and who else was part of the plan that did not know any income about the support to the nicaraguan resistance? >> other cabinet officers who had to testify. it was a very closed circle of people who knew. >> which other cabinet offices? lt. col. north: the people who didn't know. newld you who i thought to and i told you who you seen who i sent memorandum to and you know the record of communications i had with various is. i don't know who else knew.
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>> you testified a moment ago, unless you misunderstood the question -- see -- that it was thats part of the plan director casey when not know. isn't that in essence what you said? lt. col. north: if you mean like the plan, the fall guy plan, then yes. , youen though casey knew would not finger him to use a colloquial expression. expression,th: your not mine. >> but you wouldn't name him. lt. col. north: that is correct. >> the next question i would ask
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who knewr other people things that you are also supposed to not name? lt. col. north: not that i know of. i know of no other people who actually knew. i have testified as to -- as to who i knew. testified as to who i can inually confirm knowledge the memorandum i created. i specifically talked to the admiral and i could well have said to the attorney general. on the 23rd i guess it was
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sunday that oh by the way the president knows. but i asked the admiral is the and admiral told me new. in the and multiple me about the president, i told him no. it a fact that you told the attorney general whether not you didn't know. >> i think the discussion was perhaps -- >> the one where he called you from london, when he asked you what the attorney general had said. let's go back colonel. to mr. not talk mcfarlane after your conversation with the attorney general? lt. col. north: i believe i spoke to mr. mcfarlane and
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admiral poindexter. this is after the attorney general. with theyou have met attorney general, did he ask you what happened at that meeting? lt. col. north: i suppose he did or i volunteered it. do you recall telling mr. mcfarlane about the fact that they had found the memorandum? that remember telling him you asked about who knew? >> it was a profoundly difficult time because that memorandum wasn't supposed to exist. understand due to say a moment ago that if admiral poindexter had not told you on friday that he had not told the
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president you "may well have told the attorney general that .he president didn't know >> that is a very confusing question. >> did you just testify a few that had map -- that had admiral pointed to not told you that the president was diversion you may well have told the attorney general on that sunday that the president knew? lt. col. north: i don't want to leave any false impressions. in the conversations i had with the admiral on friday, all of which were related to my , the safety of the hostages in the second channel,
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, i cleanup of the files asked the admiral pointedly that day, did the president or does the president know about the fact that we use these moneys to support the resistance? i think that is the last conversation i had with the admiral about that aspect of it. i haven't assumed all along that those things that would require presidential approval indeed have them, i think i convey to the attorney general just exactly those sentiments. i told them i guess he didn't or something like that. that's what the admiral told me on friday.
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>> i think what you are trying to say is you had assumed for some nine months that the president of the united states knew and approved the diversion. i soon from the day that i took my post that those things would require the approval of the president and i sent forth a memorandum soliciting that approval and i got the authority to proceed on various initiatives. >> it wasn't until admiral poindexter answered your question that that assumption was shaken? lt. col. north: it wasn't shaken, he simply denied the president knew. ask admiral poindexter lighted she you not discussed this with the president? lt. col. north: no. i'm not in the habit of questioning my superiors. it's what lieutenant colonels
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are supposed to do. i don't believe what we didn't even under those circumstances is wrong and illegal. i still think it is a good idea, counsel. >> have you wondered why if it was a good idea that the president of the united states dismissed you because of its? north: this lieutenant not going to challenge the decision of the commander-in-chief of which i still work, and i have -- and i am proud to work for that commander-in-chief. commander-in-chief dismisses me from the nsc staff this lieutenant colonel will proudly salute and thank them for the opportunity to serve and go. it --ter how he relieves
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how he relieves me. >> the president of the united saw fit to call me later the same day. it was also intensely personal. told meme works -- words to the effect, i just didn't know. >> did you say to him i received approval from admiral poindexter and director casey? lt. col. north: i did not receive those words. i expressed my thanks for being able to serve him for 5.5 years. my service brought forth a
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political firestorm and difficulties. help and to two was to hurt him. >> when i was speaking to the 23rd yougeneral on the understood that the attorney chief legalthe officer of the united states. he was her confidant and trend. he was an advisor of the president. >> can you please repeat the question?
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>> the attorney general was an advisor of the president. yes, sir.orth: >> why didn't you tell the attorney general and advisor to your commander-in-chief that director casey knew? lt. col. north: i don't know that i did or i don't know that i didn't. i don't recall that conversation in any detail. it was consistent with a long pattern that director casey did not know about any support outside of that provided by the cia. -- by the caa from the nicaraguan resistance. >> as late as november 23, were
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you still prepared to conceal from the attorney general facts relating to director casey. lt. col. north: i was can -- i was prepared to continue not to reveal the diversion. as you recall i removed those files and people have been going through them that day. >> i was protecting the lives in the same d of the people. >> how a telling the attorney general of the united states that director casey proved a diversion that would jeopardize perhaps put than him in jeopardy of missing kind of investigation -- of this kind of investigation. know that this
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investigation can result in lives being put in jeopardy. >> i don't think a specific thoughts went through my mind on that issue. >> was a distinctive you don't mention the name of the director when talking to the attorney general about knowledge of the support of the contras. >> it was instinctive from my earliest days of contact that his relationship and mine not be something that they be -- i don't believe most people in washington knew that the director and i commune is often as we did. >> how often did you commune? lt. col. north: i would say several times a week. most often on a telephone he would meet in his op us.
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occasionally i can recall a couple of meetings if not more at his office across the street. i can recall meetings at his home. i can recall airplane trips. we met enough to be up at coordinate sufficiently and i could seat -- i could seek his guidance. >> you as a person in whom you could can fight in? a person whose advice you valued? for you on a first name basis? north: he was by me. i call him mr. casey to his face. i occasionally called him bill.
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when my father died there were three people from the government of the united states that admiral poindexter, one less president of the united states and the other was bill casey. bill casey was a man of immense proportions. a man whose advice i value greatly. a man whose concerns for this country and the future of this , i thought, on the right track. i don't think history will bear that out. i took his advice to heart. quick stitching look upon him in a way as a boss.
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>> i don't think of either of us as much of a boss. i know who my superiors are and i know the chain of command area he was a personal friend and an advisor. and get good solid advice. and the person to whom i can turn for support. him on whatreefed you are doing to keep the contras alive, did he express his approval to you? >> he never once as i can recall disagree in any way of what i've been doing.
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-- i't recall him ever don't recall him ever saying don't do something you are doing. he would often suggest ways to do it better. >> did he discussed the president views from time to time? >> not on areas bearing on this investigation. in the general terms structure casey was the one whom in the union club formulated and laid publicly whattime is to be called the reagan doctrine. i think he had a clear understanding of what the president's views were. -- helphe could helps
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formulate some of those. >> did you talk about the financial needs of the contras? >> he probably knew more about it than i did because he was getting the raw intelligence. >> and told director casey about the fact that the ayatollah would be help paying for those needs? and that was a matter that had a double irony in this sense. the iranian government had been providing arms to the sandinistas right.
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>> they provided oil on credit. also $100 million over several years. >> and one of the points that the president approved in the that mr.reference mcfarlane referred to the iranian government representatives about that they should not to the support. and a staff number of the nsc seated in reversing and all. getting money for the contras.
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that was something that director casey must have admired very much. it was something you said you are proud of. lt. col. north: i didn't say i was out of it. i said it was a neat idea. >> and did director casey ever , colonel north, this is something that you must never to any of your colleagues at the nsc?
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with directors use of proceeds was a matter that could be a political bombshell? >> certainly we discussed that a very clearly toward the end of my 10 year. to detailed down discussions of that, once he was -- thatat there were there was outside intelligence on it, i'm focusing specifically on a friend of his that approached him and told him that he'd friend never knew about the
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use. lt. col. north: ballas in the fall of 1980's. you have testified about the fact that as a result of blocks statements to the director, the director asked to do clean up your files? north: that is correct. things were as i indicated earlier unraveling quickly. shutdownhe aircraft and the investigation of the southern transport, which is as far as i can determine was innocent in that transaction. and then of course that was followed by the revelations and then the newspaper in beirut. >> in november of 19 86.
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after the iranian venture had , didpublished in lebanon you discuss that a version -- the diversion? tell us about that. >> we have had several discussions about it. is directorion casey agreed with my assessment that the time had come for someone to stand up and take the hit. he quite frankly did not think i was senior enough to do that.
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it suggested -- suggested would go up the line or do -- likeg like that area that. >> did he suggest who else would take the hit? because next up was admiral poindexter. lt. col. north: that's correct. in at the nominal deputy least some of this. it will be hard to blame something that was going on in a man who died this summer. >> so director casey as i understand it discussed with you
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the fact the fact that it may not be credible for you to take be admiral may poindexter. did he discuss anyone else who would have to take it? was -- ng he >> these conversations you had with dr. casey to place before november 21. is that correct? lt. col. north: one has to recall i spent the first part of december -- i'm sorry the first part of november in very heavy travel. and so did the director. my recollection is we had one conversation early in the months , perhaps one of my layovers in
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washington. the next conversations with earned -- conversations weren't until later. >> you had not been told -- lt. col. north: i had not -- i until novemberld 21. >> you are still laboring under the assumption that the president of the united states new. and the director casey tell you that the president didn't know? and when you and director casey were talking about the fact that someone had to take the hit, why didn't you understand that it was necessary for someone to take the hit.
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they could certainly see they would have a major international domestic political trauma. it will be helpful for someone originally planned -- he would be the guy who gets fingered for it. none of us, certainly not me and no one i ever talked to ever imagined i would do anything criminally wrong. >> you testified the director was known to you to be a lawyer. reputation of being a very smart lawyer. lt. col. north: it wasn't just his assessment of himself either.
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>> you formed that with the relationship. he is very quick. and in these conversations you are having with the director, it was clear to you that he was concerned about damage to the president? lt. col. north: that is in seeing the president as the commander in chief, the chief executive and the head of state. i think it is incumbent upon all of the servants in the executive branch to have that kind of concern, not so much for the man , but for the
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institution of the presidency. i certainly had that and i know director casey had that. , did the 25th of that youdirector casey were going to see the attorney general sunday? already north: i had seen him by the 25th of november. >> if you have an object can -- i do not believe i talked to the director that day. about that issue.
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>> what about the prior day? didn't know i: i would see him until the 21st. >> you saw the attorney general on the 23rd. you knew you were going to see him on the 22nd. is that correct? did you speak to the attorney general after the director asked to see you? lt. col. north: i did not have a recollection of doing that. >> after the incident in
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november, did he ask you what the memorandum looked like that you sent up the line that you weren't going to take care of or haven't taken care of. lt. col. north: i actually went over the memorandum with the director. >> can you recall which transaction was reflected in the memorandum? lt. col. north: i had a sense it was the february 1. i think it may have been the february transaction. talks for ar 500 total of 1000 hawks. walk -- do you recall
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which occasion? lt. col. north: it was a long time ago it seems. pursuing getting a particular cia officer engaged in the initiative. >> there is one cia officer whose name we use with respect to this. i would like to complete your answer. lt. col. north: my sense is what we started talking about was his andrience in that country so obvious language ability,
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that we had a person who was besides myself in the government of the united states involved in this and knew exactly what was being said and with whom i had absolute report. to make some kind of arrangement. a consultancy arrangement would bring mr. cave back to its service. it wasy recollection right after the february was so atn that it some point in that timeframe i was trying to get cave involved and said -- and i showed the director when of those memorandum.
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>> was the memorandum you showed him the memorandum as it existed before you sent it up the line or after? did the director in anyway caution you about not sending in memorandum that called for presidential approval? >> i don't recall him ever doing that. givenit fair to say that your strong sense of command, casey,lief in director that director casey did not put the president's name on a marin -- on a memorandum he wouldn't have done it. and you continue to put the president's name in terms of reference in the memorandum that poindexter
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should seek approval of the president. >> if we could just go to that. to it ining to come more detail later. you better say it while you remember it. lt. col. north: i would like to make the point that i did not, nor did i know that others did highlight that aspect in those memorandum. and if you will note that the one memorandum that still exists , drafted at some point in april is five pages long with a four-page attachment and there are only eight lines that refer in those many pages to that specific part of the transaction.
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what is very important, and i know that is the focus of this investigation, that they use of the fund arrived as residuals, as i call them, or you call diversions, was not viewed as the preeminent activity ongoing. the preeminent activity was to establish a relationship with iran. the other things derived therefrom. saw, as director casey put it, the ultimate irony as part of this process we could continue to support the desperately needy nicaraguan resistance. true you didn't conceal it in the memorandum. i don't think i concealed anything i did and i think the record is very clear in the stacks of paper.
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is clear thatord you did not conceal it. hurried inspection, he spotted it very quickly. howcol. north: i don't know long it took him to find it. they spent many hours in my office that day. nor did they reveal it to me when they found it. that directoron casey asked you after the incident to get rid of the that onem because of paragraph or two that referred to die version?
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lt. col. north: i think what the director was concerned about -- i'm quite sure the director was concerned -- and this was the 'sstake i made, amongst others perspective. the operational mistake was to cross the two operations in the person of this guy here and the others have and to carry it out. if you have other alternatives you don't do that. and at the time i didn't have alternatives. sawink what director casey was that there was going to be a major unraveling of the activities. the aircraft shootdown was part of it. and that was further compounded by early november. they were handed out by another faction in the government of
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iran revealing the trip by mr. mcfarlane and his party. >> it involves contra support. and complaining about the fact that investors have in getting paid from the proceeds after the sale. >> the problem with the revelation is he told him, as i remember it, that he already congress thats of moneys from the sale of weapons had been diverted to the use of the countries. >> you gave us notebooks.
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do you know what the names are? lt. col. north: i will sure wouldn't want be an actor on that. >> the director was talking about divergent. lt. col. north: the concerns director addressed to me is you have to shoot down the -- airplane. other people are very aware of the fact that the arms sales to iran generated ones that have gone to support -- and did he say, this had been called to members one starting
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the investigation? lt. col. north: i don't recall. you therefore were told to get rid of memorandum that reflected fat? lt. col. north: i was told to clean up the finals. toto get rid of memorandum -- throughnt that you went your files to make sure that you found the memorandum that refer to the residuals as you called them? thewhen you went through files, do you recall how many were found? lt. col. north: the specific memorandum seeking approval? >> yes, sir.
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lt. col. north: i don't. what i probably found were dozens of memorandum rate -- memorandum relating to the residuals. and probably several copies of even april, which i had that i had gotten all of them -- >> there were copies of the five. them toyou look over see whose names were written on them? lt. col. north: i think we have been through this. >> am asking whether you looked. >> i don't even remember looking. >> you said you did not look. i would like him to keep his
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answers to the question. we ought to move on. >> may we have the question please? click to see whose names were written on those memos? lt. col. north: i'd did not recall looking to see whose names were written on those memos. >> did you recall looking to see what they had checkmarks? say the set of books that you took home contain sensitive information? lt. col. north: it is likely within interpretation that the books are sensitive. >> part of interpretation is your handwriting. but there are names in those books.
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and you indeed uttered a prayer to me. that we treat these books with sensitivity. and respect the security. lt. col. north: i did. >> the home that you took these books was a home where you had a great deal of concern. about security. and can you explain to me, someone who has never in a position such as yours, as to
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why you would be concerned about documents locked subject to all sorts of security regulations, access restrictions, but not concerned about keeping it at home. many thererecall how were. i removed the rest of them on the 25th, along with several hundred pages of documents. for one purpose. conference mys perspective changed. it became more of protecting myself and reason to remove those not looks. and taking those documents from the white house.
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>> when did you to your whending before the 25th? was the last day in which you ditch reading out of the ordinary? lt. col. north: it is unlikely house shredding documents as late as the morning of the 25th. >> did the attorney general, on theu met with him 23rd ask you to preserve every single document? lt. col. north: no. returnedu, when you
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from your meeting with the on the 23rd gol to your office and do shredding of documents that day? >> i know i shredded documents after that fact. >> he confronted you with the diversion memo. lt. col. north: if i remember that all accurately, it was becoming increasingly difficult, your words. my recollection is i went back to the white house to call admiral poindexter on the telephone. and he had, on a rare afternoon, gone to the redskins game.
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as i recall he was not yet home. recall at that point i that i called him. i probably went back to my office at that point and went through at some time continuing to clean up the files. i would also point out to the committee that i destroyed documents that had nothing to do with either iran or the nicaraguan resistance. there no longer be applicable in the event that i was soon to be transferred. do you recall that on monday morning, the 24th, the shredder was full and overflowing? it wasn't remember that necessarily monday. but i do remember it happen it's some point. >> do you remember shredding 22nd when thehe
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representatives of the attorney general's office had left for their lunch? lt. col. north: i remember shredding documents when they were in their reading documents. they were sitting in my office and the shredder was out side and i walked out. >> it would be more than a few pieces of paper. lt. col. north: it is a pretty pricey trip -- ic shredder. -- pretty pricey shredder. they could hear the shredder right outside the door. >> on much wind be light about it. you would go up there and take documents they finished reading? lt. col. north: i want to be clear, i had a diagram of this fallacious basement office.
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up on the wall here somewhere. the desk i had was in the corner and then there was a table about the size and all of the iran documents relate out. i was literally cleaning up files. ad when i finished with handful of documents i walked past them, walked past the door, turned the corner, and dropped them in. >> did anybody say to you what are you doing? lt. col. north: i didn't think anything of it. is iyou have to understand didn't think i had done anything wrong area did i don't think they necessarily thought i had done anything wrong.
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>> before lunch, mr. reynolds found the diversion documents. if you wait for the question you are going to get your opportunity to answer. i am not interrupting your answers. not at all. he found that document, he attached significance to that document. and what you are saying is even you were there taking documents passed these attorneys to the department of justice and shredding them and they were not saying stop, we would like to
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look, what are you doing? none of that. lt. col. north: i'm not trying to leave the wrong impression. is ii'm saying to you thought, and perhaps they thought -- and i'm trying to be in several people at once, they were looking for the facts and what had transpired in september, october november of 1985. and what i was told they were looking for i thought were in the files that i gave them. i was also engaged in a number of hundreds of national security importance, the fact that i was shredding documents i don't think would be unusual to them. i'm not trying to say these guys will let me willy-nilly go
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shredding documents. i had a shredder for that purpose. you don't leave those things sitting around europe is. and that's what i was doing. >> we take single documents over to the shredder. lt. col. north: i was not taking files. i was sitting at my desk, they were working 10 feet from me. they were working on their projects, i was working on mine. i don't think you ought to accuse them of incompetence. that's why the government of the united states gave me a shredder. day was to on that get rid of files. that's what you came in for.
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working north: i was especially to keep the hostages alive. the israelis were calling me every half hour and i was working with those people. taking the phone calls. i was also in the process of looking at several action packages on totally unrelated issues. leading you to shred documents -- weren't you going through your files to get rid of the documents? >> documents that would come from eyes the studio didn't united states? documents that would demonstrate a covert action and relationship to it, embarrassing no. saying it would --
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>> are you saying that you thought that allowing the attorney general of the united allowed his representatives to see documents from the lives -- documents that would jeopardize lives? revelationsth: regarding those documents would destroy lives. many of the documents i destroyed that day, prior to
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that day and after that day had absolutely no relationship to the iranian activities. they had to do with nicaraguan resistance activities. things that were a scope in which they operate. were looking for specific iranian activities. ini had a file of matters the internal opposition, where people i contacted in europe and to getom i worked weapons for the nicaraguan resistance. you are not here tomorrow, this doesn't need to be found by anybody, i would take the motor to the shredder and destroy them. that's what i'm saying. but beyond the pale of their inquiry.
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>> those are files you have assembled over time. lt. col. north: 5.5 years. >> and you knew whoever your successor was would occupy that office would be selected by the national, is that correct? lt. col. north: i do not know that the person who moved into that office would share the same response abilities or indeed have anything to do with the matters of which i have worked. and the documents that exist in the permanent files were all that were necessary to carry on -- the activities in which i was myaged, it was only part of work counsel and support of the nicaraguan resistance, in support of a iranian initiative in being terminated. there's no need to retain those documents.
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>> do you deny that one of the reasons you are shredding documents that saturday was to avoid >> i do not deny that. >> i think this is a good time for a break. >> the hearing will stay in recess for 10 minutes. >> on c-span3, join the us onsation, like facebook. >> on lectures in history, university of washington professor william rorabaugh teaches a class on the counterculture in am

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