Profiles » Robert McFarlane
Robert McFarlane National Security Advisor
Robert McFarlane served as President Reagan’s national security adviser from October 1983 until December 1985. His involvement in the Affairs began after Congress passed the Boland Amendment banning aid to the Contras, which led Reagan to ask him to keep the rebels alive “body and soul.” McFarlane assigned NSC staff member Oliver North to that job, although he later claimed to have told North not to raise money for the Contras in violation of that law.
In 1985, the press published reports of North's fundraising and Contra-support network, leading Congress to question McFarlane. He admitted responsibility for North’s actions as his superior but claimed a lack of knowledge of these activities. Evidence later showed this was not the case.
Indeed, NSC General Counsel Paul Thompson had highlighted six memos that North wrote to McFarlane about his actions that most obviously contradicted McFarlane’s testimony. McFarlane suggested that North alter these memos, which he told Independent Counsel was only to make them more accurate. But the edits North made clearly hid his Contra-aid efforts.
In March of 1988, McFarlane pleaded guilty to four misdemeanors of withholding information from Congress:
Walsh accepted his plea first and foremost because McFarlane agreed to cooperate with other investigations. Moreover, in 1987, McFarlane attempted to commit suicide, a sign that he regretted his involvement with the Iran-Contra Affairs. McFarlane also helped the investigators at an early date, even before he pleaded guilty.
McFarlane was sentenced to two years probation and 200 hours of community service, and was ordered to pay a $20,000 fine. However, in 1992, President George H.W. Bush pardoned him.
(Go to McFarlane's Hearings Page)