Mr. LIMAN: Weren't you going through your files to get rid of embarrassing documents?

Mr. NORTH: Embarrassing, no. Documents that would compromise the national security of the United States, documents that would put lives at risk, documents that would demonstrate a covert action in the U.S. direction, and control, and relationship to it, yes. Embarrassing, no. I am not embarrassed to be here, counsel.

Mr. LIMAN: Are you saying, Colonel, that it would Are you saying, Colonel, that you thought that allowing the Attorney General of the United States or his representatives to see documents would jeopardize lives?

Mr. NORTH: No. What I am saying to you, counsel, is that revelations regarding those documents would destroy lives. Many of the documents that I destroyed that day, prior to that day, and after that day, had absolutely no relationship to the Iranian activities. They had to do with Nicaraguan Resistance activities. They had to do with counterterrorist operations. Things that were just as this committee has, I think, a scope within which they operate, they were looking for specific Iranian-associated activities. And thus if I had a file of matters pertaining to support for the internal opposition in Nicaragua, or people who I had contacted in Europe and with whom I had worked to get weapons for the Nicaragua Resistance, and sitting there at my desk, I would pull those out, and look at them, and say, "North, if you are not here tomorrow, this doesn't need to be found by anybody." I would take them over to the shredder and destroy them. That is what I am saying. It was beyond the pale of their inquiry.

Mr. LIMAN: Colonel, those were files that you had assembled over time, correct?

Mr. NORTH: Five-and-one-half years, sir.

Mr. LIMAN: And those were files that had remained secure for 5½ years; is that correct?

Mr. NORTH: That is correct.

Mr. LIMAN: And you knew whoever your successor was who would occupy that office would be someone that was selected by the National Security Adviser; is that correct?

Mr. NORTH: I did not know that the person who moved into that office would share the same responsibilities or indeed have anything to do with the matters in which I had worked and the documents that existed in the permanent files were all that were necessary to carry on whatever—the activities in which I was engaged, and it was only a part of my work, counsel, in support of the Nicaraguan Resistance, and in support of the Iranian initiative were being terminated. There was no need to retain those documents.

Mr. LIMAN: Do you deny, Colonel, that one of the reasons that you were shredding documents that Saturday was to avoid the political embarrassment of having these documents be seen by the Attorney General's staff?

Mr. NORTH: I do not deny that.