Mr. NIELDS: The American people were told by this Government
that our Government had nothing to do with the Hasenfus airplane, and that was false, and it is a principal purpose of these
hearings to replace secrecy and deception with disclosure and
truth, and that is one of the reasons we have called you here, sir.
And one question the American people would like to know the
answer to is what did the President know about the diversion of
the proceeds of Iranian arms sales to the Contras.
Can you tell us what you know about that, sir?
Mr. NORTH: You just took a long leap from Mr. Hasenfus' airplane.
As I told this committee several days ago, and if you will indulge
me, counsel, in a brief summary of what I said, I never personally
discussed the use of the residuals or profits from the sale of United
States 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 during
my entire tenure at the National Security Council staff. Throughout the conduct of my entire tenure at the National Security Council, I assumed that the President was aware of what I was doing
and had, through my superiors, approved it.
I sought approval of my superiors for every one of my actions,
and it is well documented.
I assumed when I had approval to proceed from either Judge
Clark, Bud McFarlane, or Admiral Poindexter, that they had,
indeed, solicited and obtained the approval of the President.
To my recollection, Admiral Poindexter never told me that he
met with the President on the issue of using residuals from the Iranian sales to support the Nicaraguan Resistance. Or that he discussed the residuals or profits for use by the Contras with the
President, or that he got the President's specific approval, nor did
he tell me that the President had approved such a transaction.
But again, I wish to reiterate that throughout, I believed that the
President had indeed authorized such activity. No other person
with whom I was in contact with during my tenure at the White
House told me that he or she ever discussed the issue of the residuals or profits with the President.
In late November, two other things occurred which relate to this
On or about Friday, November 21, I Asked Admiral Poindexter
directly, "Does the President know?" He told me he did not.
And on November 25, the day I was reassigned back to the U.S.
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."
Those are the facts as I know them, Mr. Nields. I was glad that
when you introduced this, you said that you wanted to hear the
truth. I came here to tell you the truth, the good, the bad, and the
uglyI am here to tell it all—pleasant and unpleasant, and I am here
to accept responsibility for that which I did.
I will not accept responsibility for that which I did not do.
Chairman INOUYE: Before proceeding, may I make an inquiry of
Was that response from a written text?
Mr. NORTH: Those are from notes that I made in preparation for
this session, sir.
Chairman INOUYE: It is not a verbatim written text?
Mr. NORTH: No, sir, it is not.
Chairman INOUYE: Mr. Nields.
Mr. NIELDS: Colonel North, you left something out, didn't you?
Mr. SULLIVAN. What is it, counsel?
Mr. NIELDS: You have testified that you assumed that the President had 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.
Mr. NORTH: I had the approval of my superiors as I did for all
other things that I did, Mr. Nields.
Mr. NIELDS: 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?
Mr. NORTH: I did.
Mr. NIELDS: And indeed, you wrote more than one of them?
Mr. NORTH: I did.
Mr. NIELDS: How many did you write?
Mr. NORTH: Again, I will estimate there may have been as many
as five. Again, I am trying to recall without access to those particular documents. You may have six, and I am not trying to dissemble
at all with you.
Mr. NIELDS: 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
Mr. NORTH: Yes.