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North, Oliver (1943–)

ACQUITTED OF CRIMES because he was “just following orders,” Oliver North first came to the attention of the American public in connection with the 1987 Iran-Contra Senate Hearings. The hearings were an effort to determine who had knowledge of and involvement in secret arms sales to Iran, and the subsequent funneling of the profits to Nicaraguan Contras (anti-communists). Congress had banned U.S. aid to the Contras. Along with other implications for careers and futures, the last 18 months of President Ronald Reagan's administration was at stake as well. If it were proved that Reagan knew of the Iran-Contra actions, the popular president would be implicated in criminal conspiracy, thus diminishing further his already flagging support in Congress and perhaps forcing his resignation or impeachment.

October 1986 ...

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