Oliver NorthPolitical Scandal Figure / Radio Personality
Born: 7 October 1943
Birthplace: San Antonio, Texas
Best known as: The unrepentant fall guy in the Iran-Contra scandal
A decorated platoon leader in the Vietnam War, Oliver North began working in the White House for the National Security Council in 1981, eventually becoming deputy director for Political-Military Affairs in the Ronald Reagan administration. In 1986 it was revealed that a secret U.S. operation had been selling military equipment to Iran, in exchange for the release of U.S. hostages, and that money from the arms sales was being illegally diverted to help anti-socialist forces (called Contras) fight the government of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua. From May until August of 1987 the Iran-Contra scandal and its televised hearings put the spotlight on North, who donned his uniform and admitted that he acted illegally, but out of patriotism. His felony convictions were eventually overturned, and depending on who's talking, North was either a traitorous drug smuggler or a national hero who saved Central America from communism. In 1994 he earned the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, but lost the election. North remains in the public eye as a conservative political pundit and media personality: he has written his own syndicated column, headed the radio program Common Sense Radio, and hosted the Fox News program War Stories. His war novels, written with Joe Musser, include Mission Compromised (2002), Jerico Sanction (2003) and Assassins (2005).
Extra credit: North has been the subject of an e-mail rumor that during the Iran-Contra hearings, he told a Senate committee (including Al Gore) that he had installed a $60,000 security system at his home to protect his family from Osama bin Laden. The rumor is untrue: North did accept a home security system as a gift and discussed it with a Senate committee, but Osama bin Laden was not mentioned and Al Gore was not part of the committee... North is a favorite among conspiracy buffs, who maintain that his operation took guns to Central America and brought back cocaine during the 1980s.
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