Mr. NIELDS: There has been testimony before the committee you engaged in shredding of documents on November 21, 1986. Do you deny that?

Mr. NORTH: I do not deny that I engaged in shredding on November 21. I will also tell this committee that I engaged in shredding almost every day that I had a shredder and that I put things in burn bags when I didn't. So every single day I was on National Security Council staff, some documents were destroyed, and I don't want you to have the impression that those documents that I referred to seeking approval disappeared on the 21st. Because I can't say that. In fact, I am quite sure, by virtue of the conversations I remember about the 21st, that those documents were already gone. They were gone by virtue of the fact that we saw these operations unraveling as early as the mid part of October: with the loss of the Hasenfus airplane, and the discussion that the Director of Central Intelligence had had with a private citizen about what he knew of a Contra diversion, as you put it. And at that point I began to, one, recognize I would be leaving the NSC, because that was a purpose for my departure, to offer the scapegoat, if you will, and, second of all, recognizing it was coming down, I didn't want some new person walking in there opening files that would possibly expose people at risk. So I do not want you to leave with the idea that those documents were shredded just on the 21st. They might have been shredded on the 19th or the 11th of November when I came back from a series of trips to Europe.