Newsmax host and former Republican congressman J.D. Hayworth added his voice today to the growing right-wing outrage over the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in a prisoner exchange with the Taliban, and what better person to discuss the situation with than Oliver North!
North demanded that the media ask the Obama administration if there was “a ransom, a fiscal, financial, money transaction,” with the Taliban as part of the deal. “Was there a ransom paid? Did the government of the United States, either directly or indirectly, finance a terrorist organization?”
North, of course, was heavily involved in the Iran-Contra scandal, in which Reagan administration officials unlawfully sold arms to Iran in hopes of releasing American hostages and used the proceeds of the sale to illegally fund Contra militants in Nicaragua, and then attempted to cover up their work.
The independent counsel report of the scandal details North’s involvement:
The Iran/contra affair concerned two secret Reagan Administration policies whose operations were coordinated by National Security Council staff. The Iran operation involved efforts in 1985 and 1986 to obtain the release of Americans held hostage in the Middle East through the sale of U.S. weapons to Iran, despite an embargo on such sales. The contra operations from 1984 through most of 1986 involved the secret governmental support of contra military and paramilitary activities in Nicaragua, despite congressional prohibition of this support.
The Iran and contra operations were merged when funds generated from the sale of weapons to Iran were diverted to support the contra effort in Nicaragua. Although this “diversion” may be the most dramatic aspect of Iran/contra, it is important to emphasize that both the Iran and contra operations, separately, violated United States policy and law.2 The ignorance of the “diversion” asserted by President Reagan and his Cabinet officers on the National Security Council in no way absolves them of responsibility for the underlying Iran and contra operations.
The operational conspiracy was the basis for Count One of the 23-count indictment returned by the Grand Jury March 16, 1988, against Poindexter, North, Secord, and Hakim. It charged the four with conspiracy to defraud the United States by deceitfully:
(1) supporting military operations in Nicaragua in defiance of congressional controls;
(2) using the Iran arms sales to raise funds to be spent at the direction of North, rather than the U.S. Government; and
(3) endangering the Administration’s hostage-release effort by overcharging Iran for the arms to generate unauthorized profits to fund the contras and for other purposes.
The illegal activities of the private citizens involved with the North and Secord operations are discussed in detail in Part V. The off-the-books conduct of the two highly secret operations circumvented normal Administration accountability and congressional oversight associated with covert ventures and presented fertile ground for financial wrongdoing. There were several funding sources for the contras’ weapons purchases from the covert-action Enterprise formed by North, Secord and Hakim:
(1) donations from foreign countries;
(2) contributions from wealthy Americans sympathetic to President Reagan’s contra support policies; and
(3) the diversion of proceeds from the sale of arms to Iran.
Ultimately, all of these funds fell under the control of North, and through him, Secord and Hakim.
North used political fundraisers Carl R. Channell and Richard R. Miller to raise millions of dollars from wealthy Americans, illegally using a tax-exempt organization to do so. These funds, along with the private contributions, were run through a network of corporations and Swiss bank accounts put at North’s disposal by Secord and Hakim, through which transactions were concealed and laundered. In late 1985 through 1986 the Enterprise became centrally involved in the arms sales to Iran. As a result of both the Iran and contra operations, more than $47 million flowed through Enterprise accounts.