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 issue.

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 the witness. 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 approval?

Mr. NORTH: Yes.