Fateful Decisions: Inside the National Security Council

By Karl F. Inderfurth; Loch K. Johnson | Go to book overview

29
CONGRESS AND THE NSC

Inouye–Hamilton Committee

In response to the Iran-contra scandal, the Congress created an investigative panel to
examine what had happened. The House–Senate Joint Committee heard from twenty-
eight witnesses in public hearings, including Lieut. Col. Oliver L. North, Vice Admiral
John N. Poindexter (President Reagan's national security adviser at the time), and Secre-
tary of State George P. Shultz. Their testimony, excerpted in this selection, takes us behind
the scenes of the Iran-contra affair, disclosing many of the intrigues that occurred inside
the NSC during this period, as well as the systematic attempts by several key NSC officials
to conceal them from lawmakers.


THE COMMITTEE HEARD FROM
LIEUT. COL. OLIVER L. NORTH IN
JULY OF 1987
July 7, 1987

John W. Nields Jr., chief counsel for the House.

Q The American people were told by this Government that our Government had nothing to do with the Hasenfus airplane "a secret CIA military-supply flight which crashed in Nicaragua in 1986", and that was false. And it is a principal purpose of these hearings to replace secrecy and deception with disclosure and truth. And that's 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?

A You just took a long leap from Mr. Hasenfus's 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 U.S. 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 with 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 throughout I believed that the President had indeed authorized such activity.

From witness testimony, Select Committee on Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Nicaraguan Opposition, the Inouye–Hamil-
ton Joint Committee, co-chaired by Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D–Hawaii) and Representative Lee Hamilton (D–Indiana) (July and
August 1987).

The testimony presented here is from national security adviser Vice Admiral John M. Poindexter and NSC staff aide Lieut. Col. Oliver
L. North, as well as Secretary of State George P. Shultz.

-316-

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