ON OLIVER L. NORTH
By Celerino "Cele" Castillo,
Former Federal Drug Agent and Author of:
Cocaine, Contras & the Drug War
posted at DrugWar.com
May 12, 2004
"Armed speedboats and a helicopter launched
from a CIA 'mother ship' attacked Nicaragua's Pacific port, Puerto
Sandino, on a moonless New Year's night in 1984. A week later,
the speedboats returned to mine the oil terminal. Over the next
three months, they laid more than 30 mines in Puerto Sandino and
in the harbors at Corinto and El Bluff. In air and sea raids on
costal positions, Americans flew-and fired from-an armed helicopter
that accompanied the U.S. financed Latino force, while a CIA plane
provided sophisticated reconnaissance guidance for the nighttime
attacks. The operation, outlined in a classified CIA document,
marked the peak of U.S. involvement in the four-year guerrilla
war in Nicaragua. The most celebrated attack, by armed speedboats,
came Oct. 11, 1983, against oil facilities at Corinto. Three days
later, Latino frogmen sabotaged an underwater pipeline at Puerto
Sandino. The message wasn't lost on Exxon, Esso unit, and the
international giant informed the Sandinista government that it
would no longer provide tankers for transporting oil to Nicaragua."
Street Journal-March 6, 1985
File # IC-600-1
Record of FBI Agent Michael S. Foster's
interview with Walter L. Grasheim
Date of Transcription: January 3, 1991
"Grasheim came up with the idea to
prepare a military raid on an airport in Nicaragua, using Tamarindo
as a staging base. Grasheim told General Gorman this and then
right after, Rodriguez came to see Grasheim without warning and
asked to talk about the idea
Rodriguez told Grasheim that
he was talking to the White House and the NSC
On September 10, 1985, NORTH wrote in his
Introduced by Wally Gresheim/Litton Calero/Bermudez
visit to Ilopango to estab."
December 21, 1982, the first Boland
Amendment became law. "None of the funds provided in
this Act [the Defense Appropriations Bill] may be used by the
CIA or the Dept. of Defense to furnish military equipment, military
training or advice, or other support for military activities,
to any group or individual
for the purpose of overthrowing
the government of Nicaragua. This act went into effect until Oct.
3, 1984, when it was superseded by a stronger prohibition known
This "Boland II" amendment was
designed to prevent any conceivable form of deceit by the covert
action apparatus: "During fiscal year 1985, no funds available
to the CIA, the Dept. of Defense, or any other agency or entity
of the United States involved in intelligence activities may be
obligated or expended for the purpose of which would have the
effect of supporting, directly or indirectly, military or paramilitary
operations in Nicaragua by a nation, group, organization, movement,
or individual." The law was effective from October 3, 1984,
to December 5, 1985, when it was superceded by various aid-limitation
laws which, taken together, were referred to as "Boland III."
North was brought into the National Security
Council staff in August 1981. One of the first assignments was
to serve as the NSC staff liaison to the Kissinger Commission
on Central America beginning in the summer of 1983.
After October 1984, Vice President Bush designated
North to coordinate the re-supply operations for the Contra network.
At the same time, he was involved in various schemes to ransom
U.S. hostages being held in Lebanon, by providing arms to Iran.
For the past ten years, I've been invited
to lecture in different parts of this country in regards to the
criminal activities of Oliver North. This will be the second
time that I know of that the Salvation Army has invited Oliver
North to be their key speaker for another Republican fundraiser.
During the McAllen fundraiser, the alleged reason for the invitation
was that the Salvation Army captain claimed that North has saved
his father life in Vietnam. I don't know what the reason is this
time around, but I do know that he is once again being paid $25,000
for his lecture.
At the height of the Contra war, I was stationed
in Central America for 5 years as the lead DEA agent in El Salvador.
It was there that I came face to face with the contradictions
of my assignments. I started to record intelligence on how known
drug traffickers, with multiple DEA files, were utilizing hangars
4 and 5 at Illopango airbase in El Salvador, to transport monies
and drugs. Those hangars were owned and operated by the CIA and
NSC. The Contra supply operations utilized
the most readily available capabilities: drug-smugglers, who had
the planes and pilots to conduct clandestine flights from South
and Central America to all parts of the United States. "Guns
down, drugs back," was the formula.
During that period, I was warned several
times by the DEA and the State Department to shut down my Contra
investigations but not to close the files. The reason was that
if I did not close the investigation, then the committees would
not be able to have excess to the files under the Freedom of Information
Act. However, I continued to file my reports on the Contras to
DEA HQS. These reports on members of the Contra operators went
on for several years.
During the 1980s, Felix
Rodriguez was in charge of the Contras' supply network in
El Salvador for Oliver North. In addition, Rodriguez hired a Cuban
terrorist by the name of Luis
Posada Carriles to help him run the operation. On October
1976, after an explosion sent a Cuban jetliner plummeting into
the sea off Barbados, it was revealed that the mastermind behind
the bombing was no other then Luis Posada. In late 2000, Posada
was arrested in a plot to assassinate Cuban president Fidel Castro.
The July 9, 1984 entry in
North's diary obligingly published by Senator John Kerry,
states, in Ollie's own hand, "Wanted aircraft to go to Bolivia
to pick up paste, want aircraft to pick up 1,500 kilos."
The July 12, 1985 entry reads, "$14
millions to finance [arms] Supermarket came from drugs."
August 9, 1985: "Honduran DC-9 which
is being used for runs out of New Orleans is probably being used
for drug runs into U.S." All told, Ollie referred to CIA
drug dealing in more than 250 entries. Oliver north's defense
has always been that he allegedly turned all of the drug information
to the DEA.
"North Didn't Relay Drug Tips: DEA Says
It finds No Evidence Reagan Aide Talked to Agency," reported
the Washington Post on Saturday, October 22, 1994.
Several years ago, the extreme right arm
of the Christian Coalition selected to support Oliver North for
U.S. Senate. Their support backfired and North became one of two
Republicans who lost the elections that year. During North's campaign,
I traveled to the Virginia to educate concern citizens on Oliver
North. I went out to "grassroots" communities, and educated
them on the criminal activities that Oliver North had been involved
in during the 1980s. I went as far as challenging North to a debate.
Of course, he refused.
During his failed 1994 campaign, he frequently
claimed that there was no basis for any charges of his complicity
in drug running, because as he keeps saying, "I'm the most
investigated man on this planet." The truth of the matter
is that the Iran-Contra
special prosecutor, Lawrence Walsh, never investigated the
drug trafficking allegations, because he did not consider it part
of his mandate. The special prosecutor's original mandate from
Congress was defined very narrowly, concentrating on the Iranian
arms sales, the "diversion" of funds from the Iranian
arms sales to the Contra operation, and on the Contra support
operation as a violation of U.S. law.
During all the misdirected hoopla about Iran-Contra,
Foreign Relations Subcommittee (known as the "Kerry committee")
continued its work. Jack Blum, an investigator for Senator Kerry,
testified to the committee on Feb. 11, 1987 that the Contras move
drugs "not by the pound, not by the bag, but by the ton,
by the cargo planeloads."
In 1987, Henry Hyde, as a member of the congressional
Iran-contra committee and a defense attorney, helped steer the
panel away from any serious investigation of the contra-cocaine
connection. His focus was to spare President Ronald Reagan and
his vice president, George Bush from possible impeachment over
the Iran-contra scandal and related drug crimes implicating the
Nicaraguan contra army.
More help for North came from an Iran-contra
committee staff member Robert A. Bermingham, in a 1987, 900-word
memo, claiming that a thorough investigation into drug-trafficking
charges had found no evidence that the contra leadership was implicated
in narco-trafficking. However, Bermingham's memo offered virtually
no documentation from - or even identification of - the "hundreds"
of witnesses supposedly questioned. There were no excerpts from
depositions, no quotes from the files, no references to specific
records examined, no citation of which foreign governments had
cooperated or how, no detailing of the witness accounts alleging
contra-drug trafficking and how those stories were debunked.
Nevertheless, in March 1998, Oliver North
was indicted on Iran-contra charges.
During North's testimony, he revealed the
· North claimed no awareness of a $200,000 investment account
that Secord's business partner Albert Hakim set up for North in
Switzerland. Although, he did admit that he sent his wife Betsy
to Philadelphia in March 1986 to meet with Willard I. Zucker,
the Secord-Hakim Enterprise's financial manager. North said he
assumed that in the event of his death, something would be done
"that was proper and honorable and nothing wrong in any way,"
denying that the investment account was bribery by Hakim. Hakim
pleaded guilty on November 1989 to attempting to supplement the
salary of North, based partly on the establishment of the $200,000
On May 6, 1989, North was found guilty on
three counts, which included: (1) aiding and abetting obstruction
of Congress, (2) shredding and altering official documents, and
(3) accepting an illegal gratuity from General Richard V. Secord.
Oliver North had teamed up with four companies
owned and operated by drug traffickers - and North helped arrange
State Department contracts to pay all four for shipping non-lethal
supplies to the contras.
According to government documents, the companies
Air owned and operated by the notorious Honduran drug trafficker
Ramon Matta Ballesteros and the brains behind the killing of DEA
agent Kike Camarena.
the Miami-based headquarters for major traffickers, Floyd Carlton
and Alfredo Caballero.
an air service partly owned by drug trafficker Michael Palmer,
described in court records as "working for the largest marijuana
cartel in the history of the country."
de Puntarenas, a Costa Rican seafood exporter established
by the Medellin cartel and operated by Cuban-American drug trafficking.
Oliver North knew that the Cuban had a criminal record as a drug
trafficker, according to the inspector general's report.
NOTE: On March 24, 1986, according to my
journals, I initiated a case general file: GFTG-86-4003 on Frigorificos
de Puntarenas. A day later I wrote a report on Juan Mata-Ballesteros,
FGTA-78-8001: Operation Tigere.
A DEA informant, Lawrence Harrison testified
that he had been present who two of the partners of Felix Gallardo
and Matta Ballesteros, met with American pilots working out of
El Salvador providing arms to the Contras. The purpose of the
meeting was to work out drug deals. He further related that Nicaraguan
contras were being trained at a ranch in Vera Cruz, owned by Rafael
Caro Quintero. It was at Quintero's ranch that DEA agent Enrique
"Kiki" Camarena, and his pilot were interrogated,
tortured and buried alive.
It will surprise many to know that the Nobel
Prize winning President of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias, because of
an in-depth investigation by the Costa Rican congressional commission
on narcotics, found "virtually all [U.S. supported] contra
factions involved in drug trafficking." The government banned
Oliver North and other American diplomats by Executive Order,
from ever entering Costa Rica for their roles in utilizing Costa
Rican territory for cocaine trafficking.
Former President Bush once stated, "All
those who look the other way are as guilty as the drug dealers."
Just recently, diaries, e-mail, and memos
of Iran-contra figure Oliver North, posted
on the Web by the National Security Archive, directly contradict
his criticisms a couple of weeks ago of Sen. John Kerry's
1988 Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee Report on the ways
that covert support for Nicaraguan contras in the 1980s undermined
the U.S. war on drugs.
Mr. North claimed to talk show hosts Hannity
& Colmes that the Kerry report was "wrong," that
Sen. Kerry "makes this stuff up and then he can't justify
it," and that "The fact is nobody in the government
of the United States, going all the way back to the earliest days
of this under Jimmy Carter, ever had anything to do with running
drugs to support the Nicaraguan resistance. Nobody in the government
of the United States. I will stand on that to my grave."
There are several Reports on files that will
contradict North's allegations:
· Documentation of Official U.S. Knowledge
of Drug Trafficking and the Contras
· Evidence that NSC Supported Using Drug Money to Fund
· U.S. Officials and Major Traffickers
· Kerry Report - Iran/Contra North Notebook Citation Bibliography
The above documentation can be located here
As Kerry's final report summarized "It
is clear that individuals who provided support for the contras
were involved in drug trafficking. It is also clear that the supply
network of the contras was used by drug trafficking organizations,
and elements of the contras themselves knowingly received financial
and material assistance from drug traffickers.
The report also cited former DEA administrator
John Lawn, who testified that North himself had prematurely leaked
a DEA undercover operation, jeopardizing agents' lives. North
did it for political advantage in an upcoming congressional vote
on aid to the Contras.
A government official can be found guilty
of violations of The Federal Drug Conspiracy Laws, if he fails
to take appropriate action in reporting drug trafficking activity.
In 1974, according to Parade magazine (Nov.
13, 1994) North spent an evening running through a suburban neighborhood
naked, waving his .45 automatic pistol and screaming, "I'm
no good!" North mentions his subsequent three week stay at
Bethesda Naval Medical Center's psychiatric ward in his autobiography,
"It is said that patriotism is the last
refuge of the scoundrel but in Oliver North, it was the first
Tony Jones- ABC
"I believed that he is one of the best
actors that I have seen, he is able to deal in his fantasies rather
then the real world
he is a habitual liar and he is just
not able to tell the truth
"He has that ability to sell himself as a dedicate, patriotic,
religious, American who only is interesting in doing what is absolutely
right and he is convincing, that is why snake oil salesman, sale
I am very distress by the fact that we are able, through
the media to create images of people that are not true."
Gen. John Singlaub, who worked hand in hand with North
"I will tell you right now, council
and all the members here gathered, that I mislead the Congress,
at that meeting, face to face
Lt. Col. Oliver L. North Under Oath before congress.
"He knows better and you know better,
because I didn't lie to Congress and you know I didn't."
Oliver L. North
It came to a disaster, including
the loss of life. I wanted out of it more than anybody, but they
kept urging me, the director of CIA, North and the others. North
admitted to this in his testimony before Congress, to the extent
of even lying to me."
Gen. Richard Secord, Oliver North's partner during the Contra
"In every case, in every case, when
there was a hint that somebody might be running drugs into this
country, we turned it over to the DEA, every single time."
In 1991, a DEA General File (FGFD-91-9139)
was initiated on Oliver North in Washington D.C. "Smuggling
weapons into the Philippines with know drug traffickers."
We, Americans, are not hated by other third
world countries because we practice democracy, value freedom or
uphold human rights. We are hated because our government denies
these precious ingredients to people in third world countries
whose resources are coveted by our multinational corporations.
That hatred we have sown has come back to haunt us in the form
of terrorism. War crimes also come easily because the U.S. considers
itself the vehicle of a higher morality and truth and can operate
in violation of law without cost. Just recently look at how we
have abused the POWs in Iraq. This past week, a government official
made the comment, in reference to the abuse, "this is not
what America has done in the past."
Finally, yet importantly, "Beware of
false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly
they are ravening wolves."