rotten > Library > Biographies > US Officials > Oliver North

Lt. Col. Oliver North, USMC (Ret)

"Ollie" is, without question, America's favorite traitor. He helped the Reagan administration commit a bunch of felonies, then destroyed evidence as fast as he could before the Iran-Contra investigation got into full swing. But people just seem to adore the guy anyway, despite his continual lies and total disregard for the U.S. Constitution.

North once had a job sitting behind a desk in the bowels of Ronald Reagan's White House, working for the National Security Council. As Assistant Deputy Director for Political-Military Affairs, he managed the day-to-day operations of a clandestine agency operating completely outside the law, without any form of oversight whatsoever. According to North's sworn testimony, his primary effort was coordinating covert sales of weapons to the government of Iran, and then funneling those profits to buy weapons for the Contra army in Nicaragua.

The only problem is, those actions were completely illegal. The Boland Amendment banned the U.S. Government from funding the Contras. Ollie claimed that he had only been following orders, but that's bullshit. According to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, it is a soldier's duty to disobey illegal orders. (North spent a year in Vietnam. Is it possible that somehow he never heard of the My Lai Massacre?)

But North had the best possible reason to wipe his ass with the American flag: cash money. Ollie was buying his weapons through a business owned by Richard Secord, a retired Air Force Major General. In May of 1996, Secord stuffed $200,000 into a Swiss bank account earmarked for tuition fees for Ollie's children. The previous year, Secord had personally handed over thousands of dollars in cash.

At trial, North had a hard time explaining how he had managed to save up the $15,000 found in his closet. Or why he made two separate cash payments for a $9,500 used car, the second after visiting Secord. He said that the $4,300 in traveler's checks he had received were reimbursement for expenses he had personally incurred on the job. He spent these checks on gas, groceries, and other sundries -- all for himself.

Somehow the jury failed to nail him for any of these accounting irregularities. Of course, it would have been easier for prosecutors had Ollie refrained from burning the ledger for his slush fund. Instead, they convicted him of accepting an illegal gratuity from Secord, in the form of a $13,800 home security system -- complete with an eight-foot tall fence to encircle the property. North requested the alarm system after he wound up on Abu Nidal's shit list. Oh, and they also found him guilty of two other felonies: lying to Congress and shredding official documents. But he only committed those crimes to cover up his overweening graft.

Nowadays, Ollie is a bulletproof vest manufacturer, book author, motivational speaker, part-time TV actor, and conservative radio commentator. In 1994, North made a failed bid for the US Senate. And, with the endorsement of Jerry Falwell and other elements of the Christian Right, he very nearly won. Kind of ironic when you consider his perjury conviction.


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