In 1979, an Iranian government supported terrorist group overtook the US embassy. They captured 52 people. In an order to obtain the release of the American hostages being held in Lebanon, The Reagan Administration secretly began to sell weapons to Iran. This went against an American ban on arms sales to Iran, which had been in affect since the embassy had been seized. (Corrigan 40-41) These deals were arranged through Robert McFarlane, who was the head of the National Security Council.
One of McFarlane’s main staff members was Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North. McFarlane gave North the responsibility of handling the details of the deal and told him not to send anything to Iran until the hostages had been released. North wanted to keep the deal going so he allowed Israel to ship the weapons before any hostages had been released. McFarlane criticized North, but North kept his job. McFarlane was replaced with Rear Admiral John M. Poindexter. North tried to convince Poindexter to continue the arms-for-hostage deal with Iran.
North realized that there was a massive amount of money being made in this trade. He used some of this money made could be used to support an anti-communist organization in Central America. This organization, that was active in Nicaragua, was known as the Contras. The Contras were also highly supported by Reagan and his administration, seeing as we were in the Cold War against Communism. (Lawson 41-60) In the early 1980s, Congress passed a series of amendments known as the Boland Amendments.
The Boland Amendments made it illegal for the U. S. military to further aid the Contras. (Cohen) The National Security Council was formed in 1947 to acquire secret information about the military plans of Russia throughout the Cold War. (Lawson 49) In 1985, North and McFarlane gave several letters to Congress, in which he lied about the questions that they had been asked about their involvement in supporting the Contras in Nicaragua. North lied again in a face-to-face meeting with Congress in 1986.
North told the House Intelligence Committee he was involved neither in fundraising for, nor in providing military advice to, the Contras. In 1987 he was confronted with these accusations to which he admitted to misleading Congress with the answers he gave them. When the president later asked Attorney General to gather the relevant facts, North and Poindexter shredded and altered official documents on November 21, 1986.
The destruction of these documents was a major loss to Congress, because they were now unable o use those destroyed documents against North in court. (http://icah. infobaselearning. com/pdocument. aspx? ID=129729&search=iran+contra+north) Further complicating the situation, Congress granted immunity to North and Poindexter so that they could eliminate the need for the testimony of President Reagan and Vice President Bush. Oliver North and Poindexter, while accused and under intense investigation were ultimately convicted. (http://icah. infobaselearning. com/pdocument. aspx? ID=110538&search=iran+contra+north) Lt. Colonel Oliver North was criminally charged, prosecuted and convicted but later the convictions were overturned upon appeal due to the fact that he was granted immunity.
North should have been convicted of his crimes and faced his time in jail for what he did. North burned legal documents containing crucial evidence for his trail, he lied to Congress about using the money from the Iran weapons sales to help the Contras, and by helping the Contra, he violated the Boland Amendments. On November 21, 1986, Oliver North shredded documents that were to be used in court as evidence.
These documents were important legal information concerning his involvement in helping the Contras. His destruction of these documents led to Congress losing very valuable data to prove whether he was a scapegoat or a criminal. The fact that he destroyed the evidence made it clear that he wasn’t being honest and that led Congress to believe his other criminal charges. Oliver North violated many laws. The two most flagrant legal violations were the Boland Amendments and the American ban on arms sales to Iran.
North continued to sell the weapons to Iran without any argument even though he knew it was against the law that was put in place by Congress. He went against the banned sales of guns with Iran, which was put in place to keep Iran from gaining powerful weaponry and putting American citizen’s lives in danger. His involvement and encouragement of continuing the illegal trade to aid the policies that he believed in should lead to his punishment. Also, the fact that he was also using federal money and weapons for the Contra agenda is a misappropriation of funds and of his position of power.