tv Iran- Contra Investigation Day 23 CSPAN July 9, 2017 4:00pm-4:32pm EDT
investigation. who werearmed rebels going to overthrow the iranian government. he answered questions on covert activity, shredding documents in by hisunt of oversight superiors. up next on american history tv tv, a half-hour portion of his testimony. >> the full proceeding of the hearing, the chair wishes to make the following announcement. pursuant to the rules of the house and senate select , and unless otherwise overruled by either one of the committees, the member of the panel per site in has and will continue to preside, act, and make rulings on behalf of both committees.
colonel north, please rise. do you solemnly swear and the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you god? >> i do. >> please be seated. >> colonel north, were you involved in the use of the proceeds of sales with weapons to iran for the purpose of assisting the contras in nicaragua? >> on advice of counsel i respectfully decline to answer the question based on my constitutional fifth amendment rights. >> colonel north, you're
appearing here today pursuant to subpoenas issued on behalf of senate and house select committees. i hereby communicate to you order issued by the united states district court. will the district of columbia, providing you not refuse to provide any evidence to these committees based on the privilege of self incrimination, and providing further that no evidence or information obtained under both or information directly or indirectly derived from such evidence may be used against you in any criminal proceeding. i therefore, pursuant to such orders, direct you to answer the questions put to you. >> and order by the house select committee, which is also at the witness
colonel north, you are involved in two operations of this government of great significance to the people of this country, is that correct? >> at least two, yes. >> and one of them in support of the contras at a time the berlin amendment was in effect and another the sale of arms to iran. is that correct? also offered support for the democratic outcome before and after the boland amendment. >> and these operations were carried out in secret? >> we hope so. -- they werehope covert operations. and covert operations are designed to be secret from our enemies. >> that is correct. >> but these operations were designed to be secret from the
american people. house --t a loss's loss as how we could announce to the american people and not have the soviets know about it. i'm not trying to be flippant, but i don't see how you could possibly do it. >> you believe the soviets were aware of ourselves -- our sale of arms to iran. >> we came to a point in time when we were concerned about that. >> it was designed to be a secret from the american people. >> i think what is important, , is that we somehow arrive at an understanding right here and now as to what a covert operation is. these hearings that are being broadcast in moscow, and talked , i'm covert operations
sure we would do that. >> but you put it somewhat differently, to the iranians to whom you are negotiating on the eighth and ninth of october. you said to them that secretary of defense weinberger, and our last session with the president said, i don't think we should send one more screw talking parts until we have our americans back from beirut, because when the american people find out that this has happened they will impeach you, referring to the president. >> objection, apparently the council is reading from a transcript from a tape recording, mr. chairman, which colonel north may have cause to be made. providedve not been with a copy of that material and i think it is appropriate requesting when counsel has a copy of the tape but we do not
have it. >> colonel north does have a copy of it. it was sent to him over the weekend and it is in a notebook in front of counsel >> thank you, mr. niels. >> titled second channel. >> as i walked in the door five minutes after i was handed all these notebooks, which i'm looking at for the first time. do you want to direct my attention to where it is? is title second channel transcripts at tab five. i believe it is the top notebook you put your neighbors on top of. >> tabs five? tabs five.
>> what page? >> it is right at tab five on that page. >> would you give us a moment to read it? >> yes. >> could you help us out? do i begin reading on tab five or the page behind it? >> did you tell the iranians that the secretary of defense at his most recent meeting, when the american people find out this has happened, they will impeach you?
that is the entire question. >> it doesn't say that on this page serve. >> at the very top. >> this is appearing in one of the transcripts of tape recordings that i caused to be made of my discussions with the iranians. for everyke to note conversation, whenever it was possible, i asked for the assistance of our intelligence services to tape record and transcribed so that when i returned it would be no doubt as to what i said. i am the one who created these
tapes, plus the seven hours of tape recordings you found yesterday. i kept trying to alert you to them and i am the one that created those tapes to that there would never be any doubt in the minds of my superiors as to what i said or why i said it. that is a bald faced lie told to the iranians. would offer the iranians a free trip to disneyland if we could have gotten americans home for it. >> the question is did you say it? >> i said it. phyllishen the hoss and -- when the plane went down in nicaragua, the united states government told the american people that united states government had no connection whatsoever with that airplane? >> when the true? airplane went down i was in the air heading for europe. the officialow if
statements were -- you are asking generally did someone in the government make a statement? >> i think we would perhaps make more progress if he asked what the kernel did, what he said, what he heard with respect to his actions area a statement that someone seems to be far field. >> that was not true, was it? it's not true the united states government had no connection with the airplane that went down to in nicaragua? >> i had an indirect connection with that flight. >> in certain communist
country's activities are kept secret from the people. but that is not the way they do things in america, is it? >> i would like to go back to what i said a few moments ago. i think it is important for the american people to understand that this is a dangerous world and that we live at risk and that this nation is at risk in a dangerous world. not bet they ought to led to believe as a consequence of these hearings that this nation cannot or should not byduct covert operations, their very nature covert operations or special activities are alive. deceit, deception practiced in the conduct of covert operations. they are addison's a lie. deny thevery effort to
association of the united states with these activities. hearings on all kinds of -- weties conducted by intentionally deceived the american people, or had that intent to begin with. conduct these covert operations was made in such a way that our adversaries would not have knowledge of it only to deny association for those activities. and that is not wrong. >> the american people were told by this government that our government had nothing to do with airplane. and that was false. and it is a principal purpose of to replacengs
secrecy and deception with disclosure and truth. that is one of the reasons we have called you here sir. of and one question the american people would like to know the answer to is what did the president know about the by version of the proceeds of iranian arms sales to the contras? can you tell us what you know about that sir? leap fromof a long his airplane. as i told this committee several days ago. summary of what i just said, i never personally residualsthe use of or profits from the sale of u.s. weapons to iran for the purpose of supporting the nicaraguan resistance with the president. i never raised it with him and he never raised it with me
withg my entire 10 year the national security council staff. i assume that the president was aware of what i was doing and had through my superiors approved it. for my superiors for every one of my actions. and it is well documented. i assumed i had approval to proceed from either judge clark, mcfarlane or admiral poindexter that they had indeed solicited and obtain the approval of the president. to my recollection admiral poindexter ever told me that he never met with the president on the issue of using residuals from the iranian sales to support the nicaraguan resistance.
or that he discussed the , or that he profits got the president's specific meroval, nor did he tell that the president had approved such a transaction. radiant -- wish to reiterate the president had indeed authorize such activity. no other person with whom i was in contact with during my tenure at the white house told me he or she ever discussed the issue of the disc -- issue of residuals or profits. in late november to other things occurred in relation to this issue. i asked admiral poindexter directly, does the president to know?
he told me he did not. on november 25, the day i was reassigned back to the united states marine corps for service, the president of the united states called me. in the course of that call the president said to me words to the effect that i just didn't know. the facts as i know them. i'm glad you said you wanted to hear the truth. i came here to tell you the truth. the good, the bad and the ugly. i'm here to tell it all come up pleasant and unpleasant. i will not accept responsibility for that which i did not do.
chairman inouye: before proceeding, may i make an inquiry of the witness? was that response from a written text? north: those are from notes that i made in preparation for this session, sir. chairman inouye: it is not a verbatim written text? north: no, sir, it is not. chairman inouye: mr. nields? john nields jr: colonel north, you left something out, didn't you? mr. sullivan: what is it, counsel? john nields jr: you testified that you assumed that the president hadn't authorized the diversion. lieutenant colonels in the marine corps do not divert millions of dollars from arms sales to iran for the benefit of the contras based on assumptions, do they? you had a basis for your assumption. north: i had the approval of my superiors. as i did for all the other things that i did, mr. nields. john nields jr: you had something else, didn't you, sir? you had a specific reason for believing that the president had
approved. you wrote memoranda, did you not, seeking the president's approval for the diversion? north: i did. john nields jr: and indeed, you wrote more than one of them. north: i did. john nields jr: how many did you write? north: again, i will estimate that there may have been as many as five. john nields jr: now we have -- north: again, i'm trying to recall without access to those particular documents. you may have six, and i'm not trying to dissemble at all with you. john nields jr: and these five were written, i take it, on each occasion where there was a proposed sale of arms to the iranians that you felt had reached sufficiently final form to seek the president's approval? north: yes. john nields jr: and the first on was in february or january of 1986, is that correct? north: as i recall, it was. john nields jr: now exhibit 1 -- in the notebook, i believe, to
north: yes. john nields jr: and, on page 5, at the end of that draft, there is a line heading "recommendation," and the recommendation is that the president approve the structure depicted above under "current situation" and the terms of reference at tab a. and it has a line for "approved" and a place to check, and a line for "disapproved" and a place to check, is that correct? north: that's correct. john nields jr: and that's the kind of memorandum, again, that you just testified about? north: yes, it is. john nields jr: this is a draft. but i think you just testified that on five different occasions, you put one of these drafts in final form? north: it is my recollection that each we prepared to conduct
one of those transactions -- and not all of them went through to fruition. there were only three that actually transpired during the time that i was supervising this activity. but it's my recollection that there were probably five times, total -- that we actually got to a point where we thought, one, that the sale would take place; and number two, that we would have the hostages released and a dialogue with the iranians, as a consequence. john nields jr: and you sent those memoranda up the line? north: it is my recollection that i sent each one of those up the line, and that on the three where i had approval to proceed, i thought that i had received authority from the president. i want to make it very clear
that no memorandum ever came back to me with the president's initials on it, or the president's name on it, or a note from the president on it -- none of these memoranda. i do have, as you know, in the files that you now have of mine, many, many of memoranda have the president's initials on it. but none of these had the president's initials on it. john nields jr: well, we'll get back to that in a minute, col. north. my question right now is, you sent these memoranda up to the national security advisor, is that correct? north: that is correct. john nields jr: for him to obtain the president's approval? north: yes. john nields jr: frequently, you would send memoranda to the national security advisor seeking his approval for something, is that correct? north: judging by the pile of paper you just sent me, i obviously sent too many. but, yes, i did send memoranda to my boss. john nields jr: seeking his approval? north: yes, sir. john nields jr: with a line under the heading "recommendation" in which you sought his approval? north: as i recall, yes.
north: yes. john nields jr: and, sometimes you sent memoranda up the line with a recommendation that he brief the president on something? north: as i recall, yes. john nields jr: and, occasionally you sent up a memorandum recommending that he obtain the president's approval? north: that's correct. john nields jr: and, that's what you did in this case? north: apparently so. those were the words that i had typed on a piece of paper. john nields jr: because you specifically wanted before proceeding on a matter of this degree of importance to have the president's approval? north: yes. john nields jr: now, at any time did admiral poindexter tell you, "don't send any more memos like this"? north: i don't recall such an instruction, and if i had been given it i would have followed it. there were times when we in both
the case of admiral poindexter and mr. mcfarlane decided no more memoranda on certain subjects and they'd be handled with verbal briefings. john nields jr: but, that was not the case with respect to these memoranda seeking approval of the diversions? north: well, you, you insist on referring to it as "diversion". i, -- my use of websterd does -- leads me to believe that those were "residuals" and not diverted -- the only thing we did was divert money out of mr. ghorbanifar's pocket and put it to a better use, but -- john nields jr: i'm not asking you about words, now, colonel. if i'm asking you whether you didn't continue to send memoranda seeking approval of diversions or residuals, whatever the word, for the benefit of the contras, up to the president for approval? north: i did not send them to the president, mr. nields. this memorandum went to the national security adviser,
seeking that he obtain the president's approval. there is a big difference. this is not a memorandum to the president. john nields jr: and, my question to you is: isn't it true that you continued to send them up to the national security adviser seeking the president's approval? north: it is my recollection that i did, yes, sir. john nields jr: and, admiral poindexter never told you, "stop sending those memoranda"? north: i do not recall the admiral saying that. itis entirely possible, mr. nields, that that did happen. john nields jr: well, if it had happened, then you would have stopped sending them. isn't that true? north: yes. john nields jr: but, you didn't stop sending them. you just testified you sent them on five different occasions. north: i testified that to my recollection, there were about five times when we thought we had an arrangement that would result in the release of american hostages and the opening of a dialogue with iran, and that we thought the deal was sufficiently framed that we could proceed with it.
and, that i thought --because i don't have those records before me -- that i had sent memoranda forward, as i always did, seeking approval. that's what i think, and that's what i recall. i'm not testifying to solid, on such and such a date, i did such and such a thing. john nields jr: and, was there ever a time when admiral poindexter said, "don't send them up for the president's approval. just sent them up for my approval." north: again, i don't recall such a conversation. john nields jr: well, in fact, isn't it true that it was admiral poindexter that wanted you to send these memoranda up for the president to approve? north: i don't recall admiral poindexter instructing me to do that, either. john nields jr: well, would you turn to exhibit two? (pause) do you have that in front of you?
north: i have a -- what appears to be a profs note from admiral poindexter. john nields jr: and below that, is -- there's a prof note from oliver north. north: yes. john nields jr: and that's to mr. mcfarlane? north: i don't know how i can tell that, from what i'm looking at. john nields jr: well, if you look right up above the reply denote of 4/7/86, it says, "to rcm." north: right. john nields jr: and it's dated the 7th of april, 1986. north: right. john nields jr: and that's three days after the date of the terms of reference on exhibit one. you can check if you wish, or
you can take my word for it. it's dated april 4th. north: will you take my word? mr. sullivan: what is your question? john nields jr: i haven't asked a question yet. i'm simply --well, the question is, isn't this three days after the date on the term of reference on exhibit one? north: apparently it is. john nields jr: and this prof message makes reference to mr. ghorbanifar in the first line? north: yes, it does. john nields jr: and it makes reference to the $15 million in line three? north: that's correct. john nields jr: and then, in line six, it reads, "per request of jmp, have prepared a paper for our boss, which lays out
arrangements." north: that is what it says. john nields jr: and my question to you, sir, is, doesn't that mean, that you are telling mr. mcfarlane, that admiral poindexter, that's jmp, isn't it? north: yes, it is. john nields jr: had asked that you prepare a paper for the president. north: that's correct. john nields jr: that's our boss, isn't it? correct. john nields jr: that's our boss, isn't it? north: he is, indeed. john nields jr: and "laying out
the arrangements," and that refers, does it not, to the description of the transaction, which is in exhibit number one? north: that's correct. john nields jr: so far from telling you to stop sending memoranda up for the president's approval, admiral poindexter was specifically asking you to send memoranda up for the president's approval? north: well, again, in this particular case, that's true, mr. nields, and i don't believe that i have said that admiral poindexter told me to stop. did i? john nields jr: did -- where are these memoranda? north: which memoranda? john nields jr: the memoranda that you sent up to admiral poindexter seeking the president's approval. north: well, they're probably these books to my left that i haven't looked through yet and i'm going -- if i try to guess, i'm going to be wrong. but i think i shredded most of that. did i get 'em all? i'm not trying to be flippant but i'm just -- john nields jr: well, that was going to be my very next question, colonel north, "isn't it true that you shredded them?" north: i believe i did. john nields jr: and that would include the copies with the president -- with a check mark where the line says, "approved?"
north: that would have included all copies of -- i tried, as i was departing the nsc, a process which began as early as october, to destroy all references to these covert operations. i willingly admit that. continue ourek look at the 1987 iran-contra operation from 30 years ago. northnant colonel oliver -- in this 90 minute portion colonel north begins with a 20 minute opening statement. he is then questioned by the city's chief counsel.