Treasonous North?

No, this is not a post about the Civil War. But I thought that I would interrupt this dreary business of apostasy in Islam, where they cut off your head if you change your mind, with a response I made today to someone asking about events during President Reagan’s terms in office. His contention was that Lt.Col. Oliver North committed high treason, and that Ronald Reagan ignored the rise of jihadism. I was familiar enough with the circumstances to respond from memory:

Reagan recognized Islamic terrorism early on, and of course it remains a threat. Reagan’s moves against jihadists were always attacked in the media. For example, the jihadists who killed Klinghoffer (who are now being celebrated on Broadway) were nabbed in an astounding stunt that was later unraveled by leftist leaks.

But as for this instance: Not long after the takeover of Iran by jihadists, and while the jihadists in Lebanon held American hostages, LtCol North and others in the executive branch worked with (comparatively) moderate elements in the Iranian government to try to get them to influence the Lebanese to release hostages.

At this point, they weren’t quite the Israel-hating psychopaths they would develop into: They were still buying weapons and other goods from Israel.

Later, North and company facilitated a multi-way arrangement where other countries would supply weapons to Iran, Iran would in return attempt to influence the Lebanese jihadists (this had some success), and the other countries would donate some of the profits from the sales to help the anti-communists in Nicaragua.

With so many people involved, word got to Iranian hard-liners, who blew up. Reagan and Meese were brought in as the furiously anti-Reagan media exploded with gleeful stories.

North, who was vehemently anti-drug, had been working with US law enforcement to run sting operations on Central American drug-runners. But according to the news media’s fabricated stories, North was a drug-runner himself.

His forthright testimony before Congress infuriated the Democrats and made North a national hero; millions of pieces of fan mail came in for him and signs supporting him blanketed the country.

In the end, the only “crime” they could get him for was accepting a security system ($13,000) from a retired general who was disgusted that the US government would not protect North’s wife and kids from the terrorist moving to assassinate them. Even this conviction was overturned on appeal.

Every bit of this was done to further the interests of the US, to bring our hostages home alive (we did get some back), and to assist moderate Iranians in reclaiming their country from the hard-liners if possible. The Ayatollah’s power was a long way from consolidated at that point.

Reagan was not involved — and was rather annoyed at not being involved. The Dems were furious because the Boland Amendments did not prohibit any of this, as it was not the US selling weapons or providing money to the Contras.

Reagan and Gays

(The fellow also “remembered” that Reagan was personally responsible for the deaths of many due to AIDS, and had refused to do anything about it because he hated gays, and stole Social Security funds to pay for the military buildup that wasn’t necessary because Gorbachev was dismantling the Soviet Union.)

Relying on memory is tricky. Your memory of the SS funds is also incorrect. So is your memory of AIDS — a name and problem that arose during his presidency, was relatively small at the time, and which he moved to address when others paid little attention or tried to downplay it because of the connection to homosexuality. The “Reagan ignored AIDS!” meme wasn’t invented until later.

Consider: One year after AIDS was “discovered,” Reagan’s budget requested $8 million to investigate and pursue a cure for it. This was 1982; there had only been 41 deaths the year before. Reagan requested more than $26 million the following year (which rose to $44 million by approval) and this amount was doubled in his requests — and funded! — every year thereafter for the remainder of his presidency.

Reagan was the first president to seriously attack anti-gay prejudice, and even as governor of California successfully worked to defeat a proposition that would have prohibited gays from teaching.


(And yes, that’s me in the picture with two rather more famous gentlemen. Newt is complaining about my wordplay; Oliver North is defending me.)

==============/ Keith DeHavelle