[ Oliver North Worked With Cocaine Traffickers to Arm Terrorists.
Now He’ll Be President of the NRA.] [https://portside.org/] 



 Jon Schwarz 
 May 12, 2018
The Intercept

	* [https://portside.org/node/17194/printable/print]

 _ Oliver North Worked With Cocaine Traffickers to Arm Terrorists. Now
He’ll Be President of the NRA. _ 

 Ollie North, Sue Ogrocki/AP 


The National Rifle Association has always been clear about drugs:
They’re terrifying.

Last year, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre darkly warned
[http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:WoxRhYSeJ6UJ:www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2017/mar/14/wayne-lapierre/are-mexican-drug-cartels-working-100000-street-gan/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=safari] that
members of drug gangs “are infiltrating law enforcement and even the
military.” In 2013, LaPierre proclaimed
[http://dailycaller.com/2013/02/13/stand-and-fight/?print=1] that
“Latin American drug gangs have invaded every city of significant
size in the United States,” and are a key part of the “hellish
world” that awaits us in the future. When Charlton Heston was
president of the NRA in the 1990s, he declared
[https://www.drcnet.org/rapid/1994/8-18-1.html] that regular
Americans would soon be besieged by 10,000 drug dealers freed from
prison by the Clinton administration.

It seems odd, then, that the next president of the NRA will soon be
Oliver North
who spent years in the 1980s working together with large-scale cocaine
traffickers and protecting a notorious narco-terrorist from the rest
of the U.S. government.

This reality about North has been largely covered up, first by North
himself and then by Fox News and the passage of time. Thirty years
later, it’s been almost totally forgotten. But the facts remain
genuinely appalling.

North was an active-duty Marine when he joined the Reagan
administration’s National Security Council in 1981. One of
Reagan’s top priorities was organizing and funding the Contras, a
guerrilla military force, to overthrow the revolutionary socialist
Sandinista government of Nicaragua. But the Contras engaged in
extensive, gruesome terrorism
against Nicaraguan civilians. Congress gradually reduced and then
eliminated appropriations supporting them, leading the Reagan
administration to secretly search for money elsewhere.

According to the report from a later congressional investigation
North was put in charge of this operation, which participants dubbed
“The Enterprise.”

"Report of the congressional committees investigating the Iran-Contra
Affair,” U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee to
Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran; U.S. Senate Select
Committee on Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Nicaraguan
Opposition, 1987

North enthusiastically looked for cash wherever he could find it, and
led many of the clandestine schemes that later became known as the
Iran-Contra scandal. The Sultan of Brunei donated $10 million (which
North’s secretary Fawn Hall accidentally wired to the wrong Swiss
bank account), and Saudi Arabia ponied up as well. North also pushed
what he called
[https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4475045/neat-idea] “a neat idea”:
selling U.S. military equipment to Iran, with the proceeds passed
along to the Contras.

Meanwhile, the Contras had a neat idea of their own: facilitating
cocaine trafficking through Central America into the U.S., with a cut
going toward supporting their war against the Sandinistas. Some
Contras were themselves cocaine traffickers, and others were simply
happy to make alliances of convenience with drug cartels.

There’s no evidence North actively _wanted _cocaine to be smuggled
into the U.S. It was simply that he had other priorities. But was he
aware of the Contras’ drug trafficking? Yes. Did he try to shield
one of “his” cocaine traffickers from consequences from the other
branches of the U.S. government? Yes. Did he work together with a
known drug lord? Yes.

All in all, North’s connections to drug trafficking were so
egregious that in 1989 he was banned from entering Nicaragua’s
neighbor Costa Rica
by Oscar Arias, the country’s president and 1987 recipient of the
Nobel Peace Prize.

This may seem shocking to the easily shocked. But it’s all been
documented in various government investigations. All you need in order
to learn about it is curiosity and an internet connection. For
instance, here’s a screenshot from the CIA’s website
[https://www.cia.gov/library/reports/general-reports-1/cocaine/contra-story/orgs.html] about
the Nicaraguan Revolutionary Democratic Alliance, or ADREN by its
Spanish acronym, which was later folded into the Contras:

"Allegations of Connections Between CIA and The Contras in Cocaine
Trafficking to the United States,” CIA, 1998

The full extent of North’s complicity in cocaine trafficking will
never be known. When the Iran-Contra scandal story broke in November
1986, he ordered Hall to destroy so many documents that the shredder
and she had to ask White House maintenance to come and fix it.
Moreover, when North was removed from his National Security Council
job, he took with him 2,848 pages of daily notes — which legally
belonged to the federal government. By the time a congressional
investigation was finally able to examine the notes, North and his
lawyers had redacted huge amounts of information. Nonetheless, 543 of
the pages mentioned drugs or drug trafficking, with the probe finding
[https://books.google.com/books?id=9-IP6ASjCL4C&lpg=PA145&dq=%E2%80%9Cmaterial%20in%20the%20Notebooks%20adjacent%20to%20the%20narcotics%20references%20has%20been%20deleted.%E2%80%9D&pg=PA145#v=onepage&q=%E2%80%9Cmaterial%20in%20the%20Notebooks%20adjacent%20to%20the%20narcotics%20references%20has%20been%20deleted.%E2%80%9D&f=false] that
“in many of these cases, material in the Notebooks adjacent to the
narcotics references has been deleted.”

"Drugs, Law Enforcement And Foreign Policy,” U.S. Senate Committee
on Foreign Relations, 1989

But despite North’s cover-up, what we do know for sure is
incredibly damning.

Perhaps most significantly, according to North’s own notes
[https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB113/north12.pdf] he met with
Panama’s then-dictator Manuel Noriega in London in September 1986 to
collaborate on a plan for Noriega to support the Contras in return for
American money and arms. They discussed sabotaging a Nicaraguan
airport and oil refinery, as well as creating a program to train
Contra and Afghan mujahedeen commandos in Panama with Israeli help.
(It’s not completely clear, but North appears to have written that
“Rabin” – i.e., Yitzhak Rabin, who was then Israel’s minister
of defense – “approves.”)

North was clearly enthusiastic about the potential partnership with
Noriega. In an earlier email
[https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB113/north07.pdf] selling the
proposal to one of his superiors, he wrote that “we might have
available a very effective, very secure means of doing some of the
things which must be done if the Nicaragua project is going to
succeed. … I believe we could make the appropriate arrangements w/
reasonable OPSEC and deniability.”

Email, Oliver North to John Poindexter, May 8, 1986

But of course, Noriega was himself a powerful drug trafficker. Knowing
this didn’t require a top-secret clearance: It was published on the
front page
[https://www.nytimes.com/1986/06/12/world/panama-strongman-said-to-trade-in-drugs-arms-and-illicit-money.html] of
the New York Times three months before North met with him. According
to the Times article, “A White House official said the most
significant drug-running in Panama was being directed by General

The North-Noriega operation ultimately didn’t come to fruition; the
Iran-Contra affair was exposed just two months after they met. But
the planning that did occur is conclusive evidence that North eagerly
worked with drug dealers operating on the largest scale imaginable.

“Panama Strongman Said to Trade In Drugs, Arms and Illicit Money,”
New York Times, June 11, 1986

North also went to great lengths
[https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/1994/05/29/a-favor-for-a-felon/10a9af57-a7d4-4329-92c2-9b3a021c6bfe/?utm_term=.9fb3017557d4] to
protect an ally who was a key participant in what the Justice
Department called
[https://books.google.com/books?id=9-IP6ASjCL4C&lpg=PA76&dq=%22the%20most%20significant%20case%20of%20narco-terrorism%22&pg=PA76#v=onepage&q=%22the%20most%20significant%20case%20of%20narco-terrorism%22&f=false] “the
most significant case of narco-terrorism yet discovered.”

In 1984, José Bueso Rosa, a Honduran general, plotted with several
others to assassinate the president of Honduras. They planned to fund
the hit with the proceeds from selling 760 pounds of cocaine in the
U.S. The FBI, however, had the participants under surveillance,
intercepted the shipment when it arrived at a small airfield in
Florida, and arrested everyone involved.

But Bueso had played a key role in Honduran support for the Contras.
So North went to work to get him off as lightly as possible. (Bueso
had not himself been charged with drug trafficking, but
wiretaps made it obvious he participated in that part of the

In email, North explained
[https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB2/docs/doc13.pdf] his plans
to “cabal quietly” with other Reagan administration officials
“to look at options: pardon, clemency, deportation, reduced
sentence.” Eventually, North planned to have the case’s judge
informed “in camera” — that is, secretly — about “our
equities in this matter,” in order to push for leniency. Then, North
wrote, it would be necessary to quietly brief Bueso, so that he
wouldn’t “start singing songs nobody wants to hear.”

North didn’t get everything he wanted, but did succeed in having
Bueso transferred to a “Club Fed” minimum security prison.
Bueso was released on parole after 40 months.

There are also numerous documented examples of North being informed
that members of the Contras were involved in drug trafficking, with no
signs that North took any action.

For instance, after meeting with a key assistant, North wrote
[https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB2/docs/doc01.pdf] in his
notebooks about a plane being used by the brother of a top Contra
leader to ferry supplies from the U.S. to Central
America. “Honduran DC-6 which is being used for runs out of New
Orleans,” North jotted down, “is probably being used for drug runs
into U.S.”

North testified in front of Congress that he’d passed this
information along to the Drug Enforcement Administration. When later
questioned by the Washington Post, the DEA, the State Department, and
the U.S. Customs Service all stated
[https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1994/10/22/north-didnt-relay-drug-tips/034375bb-8698-44d2-b086-87b7d4ea6748/?utm_term=.ec23d200c982] that
there was no evidence North ever said anything about the matter to

Oliver North, notes, August 9, 1985

The same aide who told North about the plane also informed him
[https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB2/docs/doc03.pdf] about the
“potential involvement with drug running” of one Contra official
and that another was “now involved in drug running out of Panama.”
And after a call from another subordinate, North noted
[https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB113/north02.pdf] that the
Contras were planning to buy weapons from a Honduran warehouse — and
“14 M to finance came from drugs.”

North was getting similar reports from outside the government as well.
Dennis Ainsworth, a Republican real estate investor who’d
volunteered to help the Contra cause, informed a U.S. attorney that
the top Contra commander “was involved in drug trafficking,” but
that the Nicaraguan community was frightened to come forward because
“they could be blown away by Colombia hit squads.” Ainsworth said
he’d tried to inform the White House about this but “we were put
off by Ollie North,” and “I was even physically threatened by one
of Ollie North’s associates.” (The U.S. attorney later wrote a
[https://consortiumnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Ainsworth-US-Atty.pdf] with
Ainsworth’s statements and transmitted it to the FBI.)

“Regarding Dennis Madden Ainsworth, Information Concerning,” FBI,
January 6, 1987

North and the NRA did not immediately respond to requests for comment
on this history. When North ran for Senate in 1994, his
campaign spokesperson said his involvement with the Bueso case was
“old news and garbage and nobody cares about it.” In a 2004
appearance on Fox News, North called a congressional investigation
that focused on the Contra-cocaine connection “a witch hunt” with
witnesses “who clearly had a political agenda.”

But the extraordinarily sordid nature of North’s past will be clear
to anyone who appraises it honestly. In announcing North’s
appointment, Wayne LaPierre said there’s “no one better suited to
serve as our President,” and he’s correct. Oscar Arias wrote
that the NRA “finds in Oliver North a leader worthy of its
mission.” Peter Kornbluh, who was co-director of the Iran-Contra
documentation project at the National Security Archive, is even more
straightforward: North, he says, is “the perfect pick to further the
NRA’s reputation for favoring bloodshed and criminality over
responsible gun control and ownership.”

Top photo: Former U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North gives the
Invocation at the National Rifle Association-Institute for Legislative
Action Leadership Forum in Dallas on May 4, 2018.


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