Mr. LIMAN: You did hear Mr. Casey say that Boland doesn't apply to the NSC?

Mr. NORTH: At length.

Mr. LIMAN: Now, is it correct, sir, that you were put in a position in which everybody was eager and content to have Ollie North do whatever was necessary to energize the Contras, to keep them together as a fighting force, to instill democratic values in them, to open up a Southern Front, to promote unity, to provide them with intelligence, to provide them with advice on munitions, to help provide them with that air base in a Central American country. They were all content and eager for you to do this as long as you didn't create a record pinning it on them?

Mr. NORTH: You would have to ask them.

Mr. LIMAN: Well, do you remember, Oliver North, that you had a conversation once with the Chief of the Central American Task Force at the CIA right after Boland was passed and that—I am going to show it to you, if you don't remember—and that you got criticized for being indiscreet in mentioning what you were doing and you were told, "Be more discreet next time," not that you shouldn't do it?

Mr. NORTH: I recall the event. I don't recall the time.

Mr. LIMAN: It is an exhibit here. We don't have to go over it.

Mr. NORTH: I recall it.

Mr. LIMAN: But that really was the spirit, wasn't it, of it all? Don't infect other people with knowledge-

Mr. NORTH: Unnecessary knowledge is the term.

Mr. LIMAN: You do it, you provide the deniable link, you take the rap if it gets exposed? That was what this was all about, right?

Mr. NORTH: I have testified to that.

Mr. LIMAN: And it is also fair to say that the people who chose you for this knew and appreciated your qualities?

Mr. NORTH: You are asking me to put myself in the minds of other people, counsel. I don't believe that any of those people foresaw the outcome of what has happened. I certainly didn’t. I do honestly believe that they expected that Ollie would go quietly, and Ollie intended to do so right up until the day that somebody decided to start a criminal prosecution.

Mr. LIMAN: Colonel, you characterized yourself. You described yourself—you described yourself as an action-oriented person, correct?

Mr. NORTH: That is correct.

Mr. LIMAN: You were a person who, I think in your own statement, people would say "Ollie, fix it," right?

Mr. NORTH: That is correct.

Mr. LIMAN: And it would get fixed, right?

Mr. NORTH: Usually.

Mr. LIMAN: And you could cut through red tape, right?

Mr. NORTH: Didn’t say that in the statement.

Mr. LIMAN: We understand each other. I have read enough of what you have written.

Mr. NORTH: Mr. Liman, let me just say one thing. I think it is important for everybody to understand, I don't believe that people for whom I still have an enormous amount of respect, like Mr. McFarlane or Admiral Poindexter, would have ever placed me in jeopardy of a criminal prosecution. I don't believe that those men, whether or not the President knew, and I don't think the President would have done that. I don't think anybody intended that Ollie North have to endure having his name be the only one appear on the appointment order for an independent counsel. I think we all saw, I certainly did, that what we were doing was within the limits of the law. But there were great liabilities and they were principally political. That the liabilities included the protection of the lives of other people, some of whom were at great risk and some of whom have died.

Mr. LIMAN: But Oliver North, I hear you saying that if you weren't on the order for the appointment of an independent counsel, if there was agreement that there was no criminal liability here, people would expect you to come before Congress and say, "I did it. It is not their fault. I was that loose cannon."

Mr. NORTH: I did do it. I am not, as I said in my statement, at all ashamed of any of the things that I did. I was given a mission, and I tried to carry it out.

Mr. LIMAN: But part of that mission was to shield the others who were giving you the orders.

Mr. NORTH: That is the part of any subordinate. Every centurion had a group of shields out in front of him, 100 of them.

Mr. LIMAN: Well, would you agree with this proposition, Colonel: That—and I think you would, because I think those medals represented—

Mr. NORTH: No. Those medals represent the heroism of the young Marines that I led. That is what they represent.

Mr. LIMAN: You still have those values, don't you?

Mr. NORTH: I never called myself a hero. Those words were used by other people to describe me. I am grateful for those words, but I have never called myself such.

Mr. LIMAN: Colonel, 5 1/2 years in the White House hasn't destroyed those values?

Mr. NORTH: Not at all.

Mr. LIMAN: Nor has this investigation destroyed those values?

Mr. NORTH: Not in the least.

Mr. LIMAN: And I want to talk about those values, because I think this is important for the American people. That you would agree with the proposition, wouldn't you, that in our desire to promote democracy abroad, including in Nicaragua and elsewhere, we must never sacrifice our democratic values here.

Mr. NORTH: I couldn't agree more.

Mr. LIMAN: And that part of those democratic values are that sometimes Congress is going to disagree with the Executive Branch?

Mr. NORTH: True enough.

Mr. LIMAN: And sometimes you, as a military officer, are going to disagree with what the President or the Congress decide as a matter of policy, correct?

Mr. NORTH: Certainly.

Mr. LIMAN: And you believe very firmly in civilian control?

Mr. NORTH: Absolutely.

Mr. LIMAN: And you do not share the view that was expressed and retracted by your secretary that sometimes you must rise above the written law?

Mr. NORTH: I do not believe in rising above the law at all, and I do not believe that I have ever stated that.

Mr. LIMAN: And you haven't.

Mr. NORTH: I have not.

Mr. LIMAN: And when you, Colonel North, had to, in order to protect this operation and your superiors, engage in deception of Congress and deception of other members of the Executive Branch, it was particularly painful for you, in view of the Honor Code that you subscribed to at Annapolis; isn't that so?

Mr. NORTH: That is correct.

Mr. LIMAN: Now, this covert operation that you found yourself in, helping to direct in Nicaragua for the Contras, was a different type from the covert operations that you had observed in your term at the CIA—at the NSC, right?

Mr. NORTH: It was different in perhaps where it was being directed from. We tried to adhere to the normal procedures that one would in the conduct of a covert operation. Indeed, counsel, that is an important reason for why protection was important.

Mr. LIMAN: Well, let's talk about that, because that is what I want to come to.

Mr. NORTH: But what I—what I don't want to do is leave you with the idea that the only thing I was doing was trying to protect my superiors. That is indeed an important part, in terms of plausible deniability. But part of the destruction and the deception and all the rest of what you have described was to protect those engaged in the operation.