In the 1980s, the presidency of Ronald Reagan was facing two distinct foreign policy challenges.
Members of Hezbollah had taken several Americans hostage in Beirut, Lebanon.
And in Central America, a rebel group known as the Contras was trying to overthrow the socialist Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
To free the hostages, the Reagan administration undertook a secret plan to sell military missiles to Iran, in hopes that the Iranian government would persuade Hezbollah to release the hostages.
In Nicaragua, meanwhile, the U.S. was funding, arming, and training the Contras. That is, until Congress abruptly cut off the entire funding.
That’s when someone had the idea to take the money that Iran was paying secretly for those missiles and hand it secretly to the Contras. The plan became known later as the Iran-Contra affair.
When this plan became public in 1986, Congress was outraged. Hearings into the Iran. Contra affair began 35 years ago this week, May 5th, 1987.
And witness testimony quickly pointed to one man who seemed to have all the answers to the scandal.
Oliver North was on assignment to the National Security Council, and became the central figure in the Iran Contra scandal.
In July 1987, North appeared before I congressional committee, offering testimony that was at once defensive and defiant.
North was convicted on three felony charges but his convictions were vacated, and the criminal case against him was dropped in 1991.
And a short time later, North published a book called Under Fire. And that’s when he and I had the first of what would be several conversations over the next few years.
So here now from 1991 Lr. Col. Oliver North
Oliver North is 78 now. He lives in Virginia, just outside Washington, DC.
You may also like these episodes:Bruce Laingen