by Jeff Jacobsen copyr ight 1987

[NOTE: The two sources of this paper are the Bantam edition of the Tower Commission Report, and the Pocket edition of Lt. Col. North's testimony before the select committee of the House and Senate. References from the Tower Report will be indicated by a T next to the page number, and those from North's testimony will be marked by an N.]

Do you think Lt. Col. North's operation selling arms to Iran and using the profits to aid the contras was a "neat idea?" If you do, please read this. "I want you to know lying does not come easy to me," Col. North said under oath (p.256 I\J). But he was secure enough in his ability to lie that he also said "I lied everytime I met the Iranians" (p.325 N). He lied to his consort General Secord (p.36 N). He lied to Secord's business partner Albert Hakim "to entice him to greater effort" (p.402 N). He lied to the CIA about what was being shipped to Iran (p.54,637 N). He lied to Attorney-General Meese, telling him it was the Israelis who gave the money to the Contras (p.203 N). He admitted writing phony bills to cover a gift to him of a home security system (p.187 N). And he lied to Congress probably every time he testified to them (pp.40,43,54,237,240,243,249,252 N). Apparently "lying doesn't come easy to me" is itself a lie.

Since Poindexter and North tried to keep the Iranian-Contra operation compartmentalized as much as possible, Col. North was kept extremely busy doing work that perhaps should have been given to others. Col. North is an admitted workaholic, but even he felt he was too overworked. "...you know that I love the work, but we have to lift some of this onto the CIA so that I can get more than 2-3 hrs of sleep at night" (p.286 T). "What we most need is to get the CIA re-engaged in this effort so it can be better managed than it now is by one slightly confused Marine Lt. Col." (p.344 T). But unfortunately for North, his boss Vice Admiral Poindexter on the same day said "the CIA are really bunglers" (p.286 T), and the Boland Amendment specifically mentions that the CIA cannot expend funds to help the Contras (p.451 T). It should also be noted that North had no training in covert activity (p.391 N).

Out of fear of Congressional leaks, North, Poindexter, and Robert McFarlane (North's boss previous to Poindexter) all lied to Congressional inquiries concerning aid to the Contras (pp. 365 N, 254 N, and 460 T, respectively). They didn't trust Congress to keep a secret, but they did trust Manucher Ghorbanifar enough to be their intermediary to the Iranians. He took a polygraph test and "showed deception on almost all of the questions" (p.206 T). Col. North testified, "I knew him to be a liar, I knew him to be a cheat, and I knew him to be a man making enormous amounts of money" (p.207 N). The "second channel" believed someone working on the deal with Ghorbanifar was a KGB agent (p.410 T). They trusted General Secord, who didn't have a security clearance (much to Col. North's surprise. p. 498 N) and had a shady past that made the CIA suspicious of him (p.172 N). North dealt with at least 84 people (see attached appendix), some Israelis, some Iranians, some arms dealers, yet he could not trust 8 Congressmen who should by law have been informed.

Despite Congress not knowing, there were still leaks. A country (name deleted in the reports) somehow learned of McFarlane and North's secret trip to Tehran (p.368 T). Col. North asked Poindexter to give those people with knowledge of the operation, including North himself, a polygraph test "re: this Woodward mess" (p.415 T). "We know the Soviets know a Iittte bit about this [Iranian contact] and are trying to find out more" (p.310 T), North said. McFarlane opined "too many people are talking to reporters from the donor community and within the Administration" (p.468 T). The next day North wrote Poindexter an offer to resign: "you should not be expected to retain on your staff someone who you suspect could be talking to the media..." (p.347 T). Mr. Furmark, a Canadian businessman once involved in the affair, knew about the funds diversion to the Contras (p.192, 354 N). Pat Robertson claims Col. North told him about the Tehran talks, which North denied (p.698 N). And of course, the Iranians leaked the story which blew the cover on the whole affair.

In North's defense of why he lied to Congress, he gave two examples of Congressional leaks that caused him to distrust Congress. One was the Achille Lauro incident where "the statements made by a number of members of Congress... seriously jeopardized... intelligence gathering means" (p.657 N). But Newsweek says it was North that leaked the information, which North has never denied since that claim (Newsweek July 27, 1987 p.16). The second was a leak of the plan to raid Libya by a Congressman a few hours before the attack (p.657 N). But Senator Inouye destroyed this notion by showing the Administration leaked the plan several times beginning 6 days before the raid (pp. 746ff N).

There were two given reasons for dealing with the Iranians. One was to exchange weapons for hostages held in Lebanon. The other was to make contact with moderates in the Iranian government in order to have a good relationship with a faction that may be able to take control in the future. As an added bonus, the Contras in Nicaragua were to be funded with the proceeds from the weapons sales to the Iranians. These plans wound up defeating each other in the execution. If the plan was only to get the hostages, the weapons could be sent, the hostages released, and that would be the end (unless the terrorists decided they might have a good thing going). This is often stated by North and others as the purpose. For instance, "$18M in payment for the first 80 has been deposited in the appropriate account. No acft will land in Tabriz [Iran] until the AMCITS [American citizens] have been delivered to the embassy" (p.160 T). The Tower Commission reviewed this part- "Israel and the United States sold Iran 1,508 TOW missiles, 18 HAWK missiles, of which 17 were returned, and some HAWK spare parts. In addition, the United States had provided Iran with briefings on the U.S. perception of the Soviet threat and the Iran-Iraq war" (p.338 T). "In this period, one American hostage had been released, and at least one had died in captivity" (ibid.). The Iranians got their weapons while we got 3 of 8 hostages released (p.153 1\1), and it is not known how much influence Iran had on those releases.

Despite the fact that one goal was to establish a trusting relationship with "moderate" Iranians, North noted "I lied everytime I met the Iranians" (p.325). He gave them deceptive intelligence (pp.271, 417 T). He told them it was the U.S. government's position that the Iraqi president must go, that the Dawaa prisoners shouldbe released (p.464 N), and that the U.S. would supply aid to Iran "like a Marshall Plan" (p.466 N), although none of that was true. Despite the fact that North wrote "we all view the next steps as 'confidence building' on the part of both sides" (p.167 T), he suggested to Poindexter that we also send arms to Iraq (p.292 T). The Iranians discovered that they were being grossly overcharged in an arms deal that was supposed to be a show of U.S. good intentions (pA55 N,52 T,599 N).

The money was handled in a very strange manner. The Canadian investors involved at the beginning of the arms sales threatened a civil lawsuit to recover $15 million they claimed was owed them (p.430,432 T). North suggested jacking future sale prices to help pay the Canadians back (p.456 N). General Secord's enterprise with Albert Hakim as business manager was recruited to handle the funding and arms supply effort in the Iran-Contra operations. They had no superiors in the U.S. government (p.479 N) and were allowed to define for themselves what a fair profit would be from their work (p.543 N). Neither North nor anyone else in the U.S. government ever asked them for a financial accounting (ibid.). North was also surprised to learn that Secord had millions of dollars at hand at a time when the Contras were almost destitute (p.552 N). Secord once tried to deposit Iranian money into a closed account (p.427 T), and North gave Elliot Abrams the wrong account number for the Sultan of Brunei's $10 milIion contribution.

There are many questions left about this affair that have not been brought to light. For instance, how were the Moonies involved (p.477 T. Note references in notes, "CAUSA", "Col. Pak", and "So. Korea")? How was the U.S. planning to overthrow Libya (p.285 T)? Why did Robert McFarlane suggest sending Lt. Col. North to Bethesda Naval Hospital for a "disability review" (p.347 T)? What was the Contras' source of money that even North didn't know about (p.618 N)?

Hopefully, this quick review will cause some North fans to go back and review the record a little more closely, for, as Daniel Schorr noted, "Magnetic North is not the same as True North" (P. ix N).


Lt. Col. Oliver North
Vice Admiral John Poindexter
Robert McFarlane
Major General Richard Secord
Albert Hakim
Fawn Hall
Manucher Ghorbanifar
General John Singlaub
Spitz Channel
Richard Miller
Brendan Sullivan, Jr. (North's attorney)
William Casey
Elliott Abrams
Edwin Meese
Mr. Furmark (a Canadian investor)
Mr. Keele (p.60 N)
Dr. Gaston Sigur (p.434 N)
Admiral Arthur J. Moreau (p.124 N)
Duane Clarridge (p.124 1\1)
"other people at the CIA" (p.124 N)
Mr. Fires (p.125 N)
Mr. Armitage (ibid)
Mr. Michael (ibid)
General Moehring (ibid)
Joseph Coors (p.127 N)
Lt. Col. Robert Earl (p.133 N)
Mr. Cave (p.135 1\1)
Mr. Sporkin (p.137 N)
Amiran Nir (p.139 N)
Ronald Reagan (p.139 N)
Swiss bankers
Glenn Robinette (p.182 N)
Mr. Zucker (p.196 N)
Louis Tambs (p.214 N)
Robert Owen (p.217 N)
Bill Haskell (p.220 N)
John Miller (p.224 N)
Don Gregg (p.227 N)
Felix Rodriguez (p.227 N) also known as Max Gomez
General Gorman (p.228 N)
Mr. Dutton (p.229 N)
John HuII (p.251 1\1)
Ken Astrawo (p.255 N)
John Morton Moore (p.285 N) probably didn't know much
Michael Ledeen (p.318 N)
"the first channel"
"the second channel"
Don Fortier (p.348 N)
Adolpho Calero
Mr. Kinky (p.396 N)
Noel Koch (pA03 N)
Mr. Jensen (p.406 N)
Ken DeGraffenreid (p.448 N)
"some in the Israeli Government" (pA58 N)
Tom Klein (p.548 N)
Roy Godson (p.556 N)
Terry Sleese (p.556 N)
John Donahue (p.556 N)
John Hertle (p.557 N)
Vice President George Bush (p.575,6 N)
David Walker (p.589,590-3 N)
John McMahon (p.602 N)
Mr. Burkhart (p.613 N)
Mr. Gates (p.636 N)
Albert Schwimmer (p.688 N)
Col. James Steele (p.720 N)
Howard Teicher (p.311 T)
the Sultan of Brunei (p.342 T)
Franklin (p.343 T)
Hill (p.345 T)
General Calvin (p.348 T)
Dr. Larijani (p.369 T)
Charles Allen (p.384 T)
Craig Fuller (p.385 T)
Prime Minister of Israel Shimon Peres (p.385 T)
Sam O'Neil (p.416 T) may be an alias
Khashoggi (p.439 T)
Yaacov Nimrodi (pA39 T)
Andrew Messing (p.459 T)
Linda Guell (p.459 T)
Col. Bo Hi Pak (p.477 T)
Craig Coy (pA80 T)
David Kimche