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Tilsley

SEC Hearing Regarding Iran-Contra

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5 minutes ago, DMH said:

 

Lt. Colonel Oliver North: I do not believe the Boland Amendment afforded the executive branch a degree of discretion of freedom in the way you have described. 

 

Thank you Colonel. And now a question to Admiral Poindexter. As the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, and following the arguments I've made to the committee and in regards to the contention of the Boland Amendment, what is your opinion on this narrative?

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1 hour ago, DMH said:

Lt. Colonel Oliver North: My desire to carry out the wishes of my commander-in-chief and to help freedom fighters opposing a surrogate state of Moscow in Central America. As stated before, I accept the responsibility of my actions and ultimately my actions were not in coordination with the President.

 

Could you clarify that for us as well sir? How can you tell us in one breath that it was your desire to "carry out the wishes" of your commander in chief, but in the next breath tell us that they were your own actions? This seems very contradictory to me. 

 

Also, you stated that "The decisions regarding how that task was completed was handled by higher level officials within the NSC and myself." Is this not ultimately how all military operations, or operations in general are conducted? Meaning that seldom in this modern day is the Commander in Chief on the field of battle, or in the mission briefing for an operation with the officers sent to carry it out, but is it not still an order by the executive branch to conduct the said "mission" and then therefore aren't your actions in coordination with the President, if he is the one that told you, and gave you the order, to "Keep the Soul and Body of the Contra alive"? 

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Posted (edited)

This question is directed at any of you that can give me a definite answer.

 

How is Iran, a sworn enemy of the United States for the last eight years, caught in the middle of this? 

 

@DMH

Edited by Tilsley

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23 hours ago, Conrad said:

 

Thank you Colonel. And now a question to Admiral Poindexter. As the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, and following the arguments I've made to the committee and in regards to the contention of the Boland Amendment, what is your opinion on this narrative?

 

Admiral John Poindexter: I would also agree with the general sentiment you have raised regarding the Boland Amendment Congressman.

 

22 hours ago, FrankP said:

 

Could you clarify that for us as well sir? How can you tell us in one breath that it was your desire to "carry out the wishes" of your commander in chief, but in the next breath tell us that they were your own actions? This seems very contradictory to me. 

 

Also, you stated that "The decisions regarding how that task was completed was handled by higher level officials within the NSC and myself." Is this not ultimately how all military operations, or operations in general are conducted? Meaning that seldom in this modern day is the Commander in Chief on the field of battle, or in the mission briefing for an operation with the officers sent to carry it out, but is it not still an order by the executive branch to conduct the said "mission" and then therefore aren't your actions in coordination with the President, if he is the one that told you, and gave you the order, to "Keep the Soul and Body of the Contra alive"? 

 

Colonel Oliver North: The President was unaware of any of the legally questionable. My actions were in coordination with other high level members of the NSC. I don't believe my statement was contradictory.

 

18 hours ago, Tilsley said:

This question is directed at any of you that can give me a definite answer.

 

How is Iran, a sworn enemy of the United States for the last eight years, caught in the middle of this? 

 

@DMH

 

Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger: I would like to state to the committee on record that I, along with Secretary Schultz, opposed the idea of selling arms to the Iranian Regime. There was a perception among some high level members of the administration that selling arms and engaging in trade with Iran would counter potential exploitation by the Soviets. That perception gained traction after information reached the NSC from the Israelis that the Iranians were willing to trade arms for the release of American hostages held by Hezbollah. The idea was to trade arms to a moderate faction within the Ayatollah's regime. After the resignation of National Security Adviser McFarlane, the idea was devised to take a portion of the proceeds and send that money as aid to the Contras in Nicaragua.

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1 hour ago, DMH said:

Colonel Oliver North: The President was unaware of any of the legally questionable. My actions were in coordination with other high level members of the NSC. I don't believe my statement was contradictory.

 

Colonel North, can you please explain to us what "keep the body and soul of the contras alive" means? 

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11 hours ago, FrankP said:

 

Colonel North, can you please explain to us what "keep the body and soul of the contras alive" means? 

 

Colonel Oliver North: To do everything in my power and, within the confines of the law, keep channels of financial support open for the Contras in Nicaragua who are fighting against a government backed by the Soviets.

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14 hours ago, DMH said:

 

Admiral John Poindexter: I would also agree with the general sentiment you have raised regarding the Boland Amendment Congressman.

 

 

Colonel Oliver North: The President was unaware of any of the legally questionable. My actions were in coordination with other high level members of the NSC. I don't believe my statement was contradictory.

 

 

Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger: I would like to state to the committee on record that I, along with Secretary Schultz, opposed the idea of selling arms to the Iranian Regime. There was a perception among some high level members of the administration that selling arms and engaging in trade with Iran would counter potential exploitation by the Soviets. That perception gained traction after information reached the NSC from the Israelis that the Iranians were willing to trade arms for the release of American hostages held by Hezbollah. The idea was to trade arms to a moderate faction within the Ayatollah's regime. After the resignation of National Security Adviser McFarlane, the idea was devised to take a portion of the proceeds and send that money as aid to the Contras in Nicaragua.

 

Colonel, Admiral... a question to both of you... what then, given my reasonable application of judicial and legal precedent, do you think these hearings are about?

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33 minutes ago, Conrad said:

 

Colonel, Admiral... a question to both of you... what then, given my reasonable application of judicial and legal precedent, do you think these hearings are about?

 

Admiral John Poindexter: I believe Congress does have a fundamental function to provide oversight on the executive which is why I would hope that the purpose of this hearing is to seek those answers rather than a less-than-genuine motivation.

 

Colonel Oliver North: I concur with Admiral Poindexter and I know for myself, I came here to tell this committee the truth, whether it be good, bad, or ugly. 

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46 minutes ago, DMH said:

 

Admiral John Poindexter: I believe Congress does have a fundamental function to provide oversight on the executive which is why I would hope that the purpose of this hearing is to seek those answers rather than a less-than-genuine motivation.

 

Colonel Oliver North: I concur with Admiral Poindexter and I know for myself, I came here to tell this committee the truth, whether it be good, bad, or ugly. 

 

So, you're saying, and I want to give you a chance to clarify your answers, that the motive for these hearings should not be on the Boland Amendments, bearing in mind the legal arguments I've posed, but rather just an exercise of the Congress' power to check the Executive Branch?

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3 hours ago, DMH said:

 

Colonel Oliver North: To do everything in my power and, within the confines of the law, keep channels of financial support open for the Contras in Nicaragua who are fighting against a government backed by the Soviets.

 

Did the President, or any other superior, relay to you at any point in time that this is what that phrase meant? 

 

 

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52 minutes ago, Conrad said:

 

So, you're saying, and I want to give you a chance to clarify your answers, that the motive for these hearings should not be on the Boland Amendments, bearing in mind the legal arguments I've posed, but rather just an exercise of the Congress' power to check the Executive Branch?

 

Admiral John Poindexter: I believe the Boland Amendments have merit in this discussion and are a significant factor as to why we are having this hearing to begin with. Legislative intrusion in the executive’s ability to conduct foreign affairs led to the string of events that put me in this chamber today. A breakdown in trust between the executive and legislative branches caused the secrecy and back channel dealings. The Boland Amendments were fundamentally a mistake in my opinion.

 

10 minutes ago, FrankP said:

 

Did the President, or any other superior, relay to you at any point in time that this is what that phrase meant? 

 

 

 

Colonel Oliver North: That was my interpretation of the command Congressman as well as the interpretation of other NSC members involved in the situation. It was never explicitly stated.

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2 minutes ago, DMH said:

 

Admiral John Poindexter: I believe the Boland Amendments have merit in this discussion and are a significant factor as to why we are having this hearing to begin with. Legislative intrusion in the executive’s ability to conduct foreign affairs led to the string of events that put me in this chamber today. A breakdown in trust between the executive and legislative branches caused the secrecy and back channel dealings. The Boland Amendments were fundamentally a mistake in my opinion.

 

 

Colonel Oliver North: That was my interpretation of the command Congressman as well as the interpretation of other NSC members involved in the situation. It was never explicitly stated.

 

Colonel North, you say it was your interpretation of what the words meant. Do you often leave meetings with superiors, or leave mission briefings with the President of the United States, without a definitive understanding of what your orders are? 

 

Admiral Poindexter, does your opinion have any influence on what the actual law is? If you have a differing of opinion with a law, do you feel that you are free to break it? 

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37 minutes ago, FrankP said:

 

Colonel North, you say it was your interpretation of what the words meant. Do you often leave meetings with superiors, or leave mission briefings with the President of the United States, without a definitive understanding of what your orders are? 

 

Admiral Poindexter, does your opinion have any influence on what the actual law is? If you have a differing of opinion with a law, do you feel that you are free to break it? 

 

Colonel Oliver North: As I said, that was the interpretation of the orders given to us by the President. This was an interpretation shared not just by me but by the senior NSC officials that oversaw me and my actions. We were given a large scope in which to accomplish our task and we made the most of it.

 

Admiral John Poindexter: I never claimed to state that my opinion of the law impacts what the actual law is. This, as a matter of national security, took precedence over the vague nature of the Boland Amendment. I've made no such denial that certain actions were taken outside the confines of the law and I regret that such actions were taken in hindsight.

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Gentlemen, I have to say I think it's within the capability of this Committee to decide what these hearings are about - not those testifying before the Committee.

 

Colonel North, can you explain to this Committee how it is you came away with an order from the President that you interpreted to do only that which was within the confines of the law, but interpreted that to allow you to take what you've called "legally questionable" action? Was it your understanding that the President had a more fast and loose interpretation of what was within the confines of the law? Or did you simply not care that your Commander-in-Chief had ordered you to obey the law? That doesn't make much sense in my mind.

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2 hours ago, DMH said:

 

Colonel Oliver North: As I said, that was the interpretation of the orders given to us by the President. This was an interpretation shared not just by me but by the senior NSC officials that oversaw me and my actions. We were given a large scope in which to accomplish our task and we made the most of it.

 

Admiral John Poindexter: I never claimed to state that my opinion of the law impacts what the actual law is. This, as a matter of national security, took precedence over the vague nature of the Boland Amendment. I've made no such denial that certain actions were taken outside the confines of the law and I regret that such actions were taken in hindsight.

 

And to each of you have the same questions then, Are you elected officials, accountable to the voting public, and the American people like the President of the United States is? I believe it is in each of your job descriptions to serve the President, but nothing is said of you being awarded the leeway of interpreting the President, and the American people have not afforded you the discretion to bend and twist orders given to you to your liking. If orders are given to you in such a manner that is up to interpretation, then it is the fault of one giving the orders for being imprecise, and whatever action was taken ultimately falls back to the responsibility and blame of the one giving the order originally, correct? In this case most certainly the President of the United States. 

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2 hours ago, DMH said:

Colonel Oliver North: As I said, that was the interpretation of the orders given to us by the President. This was an interpretation shared not just by me but by the senior NSC officials that oversaw me and my actions. We were given a large scope in which to accomplish our task and we made the most of it.

 

 

Colonel, it would appear that my colleagues are attempting to paint your decision to interpret orders as the fault of others. That isn't what you have said, but rather have said that you were ordered to attempt to prop up an anti-Communist organizations in the Americas... So let's get down to the root of the question. Did you ever receive a direct order from the President to violate the law? 

 

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33 minutes ago, Brady said:

Gentlemen, I have to say I think it's within the capability of this Committee to decide what these hearings are about - not those testifying before the Committee.

 

Colonel North, can you explain to this Committee how it is you came away with an order from the President that you interpreted to do only that which was within the confines of the law, but interpreted that to allow you to take what you've called "legally questionable" action? Was it your understanding that the President had a more fast and loose interpretation of what was within the confines of the law? Or did you simply not care that your Commander-in-Chief had ordered you to obey the law? That doesn't make much sense in my mind.

 

No one was deciding anything. I would like the record to reflect that my question asked for the opinion of the witnesses, not for any binding or directive to decide what the hearings are about.

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Mr. Chairman,

 

As there are still several questions that need to be asked, and the responses take time as well, I motion to increase the time of this hearing by an additional 48 hours after the current clock has expired (I believe tomorrow around this time).

 

I Yield. 

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30 minutes ago, FrankP said:

Mr. Chairman,

 

As there are still several questions that need to be asked, and the responses take time as well, I motion to increase the time of this hearing by an additional 48 hours after the current clock has expired (I believe tomorrow around this time).

 

I Yield. 

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

I second the motion.

 

I yield.

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2 hours ago, Brady said:

Gentlemen, I have to say I think it's within the capability of this Committee to decide what these hearings are about - not those testifying before the Committee.

 

Colonel North, can you explain to this Committee how it is you came away with an order from the President that you interpreted to do only that which was within the confines of the law, but interpreted that to allow you to take what you've called "legally questionable" action? Was it your understanding that the President had a more fast and loose interpretation of what was within the confines of the law? Or did you simply not care that your Commander-in-Chief had ordered you to obey the law? That doesn't make much sense in my mind.

 

Colonel Oliver North: I did what I get was necessary to complete the task given to me. All of my actions were approved by my superiors within the NSC. I completed the orders given to me by my superiors and I make no apology for that. As I stated in the beginning of this hearing, I have never violated an order in all my years serving this country and I will not apologize for that either.

 

2 hours ago, FrankP said:

 

And to each of you have the same questions then, Are you elected officials, accountable to the voting public, and the American people like the President of the United States is? I believe it is in each of your job descriptions to serve the President, but nothing is said of you being awarded the leeway of interpreting the President, and the American people have not afforded you the discretion to bend and twist orders given to you to your liking. If orders are given to you in such a manner that is up to interpretation, then it is the fault of one giving the orders for being imprecise, and whatever action was taken ultimately falls back to the responsibility and blame of the one giving the order originally, correct? In this case most certainly the President of the United States. 

 

Former CIA Director William Casey: Was that a question or a statement Congressman?

 

2 hours ago, MrAnderson said:

 

Colonel, it would appear that my colleagues are attempting to paint your decision to interpret orders as the fault of others. That isn't what you have said, but rather have said that you were ordered to attempt to prop up an anti-Communist organizations in the Americas... So let's get down to the root of the question. Did you ever receive a direct order from the President to violate the law? 

 

 

Colonel Oliver North: I did not Congressman.

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2 hours ago, DMH said:

Colonel Oliver North: I did what I get was necessary to complete the task given to me. All of my actions were approved by my superiors within the NSC. I completed the orders given to me by my superiors and I make no apology for that. As I stated in the beginning of this hearing, I have never violated an order in all my years serving this country and I will not apologize for that either.

 

This is not what I asked. Are you elected officials, accountable to the voting public, and the American people like the President of the United States is? And if your superior, in this case the POTUS, gives you an order that is left up to "interpretation" then does he not share in responsibility for how you carried out his orders? 

 

Also, you say that you have not ever received an order from the President to violate the law, but if like you have said before, you were left to interpret the President's orders, can you say with 100% certainty that you did not misinterpret his words, or that a thousand other people in your position, would have interpreted his orders to "Keep the Body and Soul of the Contras alive" in a manner that did not violate established laws? 

 

2 hours ago, DMH said:

Was that a question or a statement Congressman?

 

Sir, is it part of your job description to speak for, and interpret the wishes of the President of the United States? Are you allowed to circumvent the law, when you do not agree with the written law? 

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3 hours ago, FrankP said:

Mr. Chairman,

 

As there are still several questions that need to be asked, and the responses take time as well, I motion to increase the time of this hearing by an additional 48 hours after the current clock has expired (I believe tomorrow around this time).

 

I Yield. 

 

@Tilsley

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Mr Chairman, 

 

It is a shame that certain members of the committee are trying to circumvent the findings of the Tower Commission, attempting to have the witnesses before us today somehow implicate the President in this decision to arm the contra's, contrary to what the Boland Amendment says. Now, I've spoke long and hard about the legal position of the Boland Amendments and that is why I come to the conclusion that the Executive Branch was acting within its own constitutional powers and monopoly over the foreign policy of the United States, namely Colonel North, to implement a goal of the administration to keep the " body and soul of the Contras alive". I will concede that the executive branch was operating within the lowest ebb of its power, but still constitutionally granted and affirmed by the Supreme Court nonetheless. I now fear that this committee will go on to try and somehow implicate the President despite evidence and reports that he did not know about this or as we've recently heard, told his National Security Council to violate the Boland Amendments, which in and of themselves are questionable.

 

While not a question to either witnesses, I just wanted to remark as to the scope and direction that this committee and hearing is taking.

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15 hours ago, Brady said:

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

I second the motion.

 

I yield.

 

Motion is recognized and seconded.

 

24 hours to vote for a 48 hour extension.

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