‘Let Ollie Do It’ Was Motto, Attorney Says : North ‘Just Wants to Go Home,’ Emotional Lawyer Tells Court
Quoting Bible verse and choking with emotion, Oliver L. North’s lawyer said today that the Ronald Reagan Administration, trying to keep the Nicaraguan Contras alive and rescue U.S. hostages in Lebanon, united in the cry, “Let Ollie do it!”
“Ollie North doesn’t want to be a hero,” Brendan V. Sullivan Jr. said in closing arguments at the former National Security Council aide’s trial. “He just wants to go home.”
“It’s like a big octopus,” Sullivan said. “The President, McFarlane, Poindexter, Casey . . . they are all reaching out to get Ollie North to run something. . . . They are all reaching out to get him.”
Robert C. McFarlane and John W. Poindexter were national security advisers to President Reagan, and the late William J. Casey was CIA director.
‘He Has Been a Hostage’
In a quavering voice and appearing near tears, Sullivan read the Bible verse that says: “Greater love has no man than he be willing to lay down his life for another.”
“That’s the kind of man Ollie North is,” said Sullivan. “Now he cries out. In a sense he has been a hostage. I ask you on the evidence to set him free.”
Earlier, Sullivan said it was “natural instinct” for North to destroy documents because he was engaged in some of the government’s most secret operations.
“It’s a reasonable thing to do,” Sullivan said of North’s decision to destroy records as he prepared to leave the National Security Council staff in November, 1986. “The act of destroying documents” would be the “natural instinct of anybody running a covert operation.”
‘Most Secret Operations’
“Col. North had charge of running some of the most secret operations” in the government, Sullivan said as North’s Iran-Contra trial approached its end.
The former NSC aide is accused of altering, destroying, concealing and removing documents as the Iran-Contra scandal emerged publicly in November, 1986.
North testified that among the documents he destroyed were memos reflecting the diversion of funds from the sale of weapons to Iran to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. One memo reflecting a planned diversion that North neglected to shred was found in his files on Nov. 22, 1986, by an aide to then-Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III.
North is accused of preparing documents stating that no one in the U.S. government knew until January, 1986, that Hawk missiles were aboard an aircraft to Iran on a November, 1985, flight assisted by the CIA.