"Oliver North is, hands down, the absolute best choice to lead our NRA Board, to fully engage with our members and to unflinchingly stand and fight for the great freedoms he has defended his entire life," NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre said in a Monday statement. North is expected to become president within a few weeks. He is retiring from his position at Fox News effective immediately.
Joe Lauria, the editor-in-chief of Consortium News, told Radio Sputnik's Loud and Clear that the Iran-Contra scandal, which occurred during Ronald Reagan's presidency, is the "greatest scandal in US history" and the media is forgetting the role Oliver North played in it.
During the scandal, which began in 1985, senior administration officials supplied weapons to Iran in order to release American hostages held in Lebanon by Hezbollah, a paramilitary group with ties to Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran's leader at the time. The US officials also used the funds from the secret arms deal to support the Contras in Nicaragua.
The Contras, which were active from 1979 to the early 1990s and were in opposition to the socialist Sandinista Junta of National Reconstruction government, were backed by the US. However, under the Boland Amendment, a series of laws passed between 1982 and 1984 that aimed at limiting US assistance to the Contras, Congress prohibited further US funding of the paramilitary group.
North, who was a US Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel at the time, devised the scandal, which involved Israel shipping weapons to Iran. The US re-supplied Israel with weapons and awarded Israel a payment for their assistance. North was eventually convicted for his involvement in the scandal in the late 1980s and forced to retire from the Marine Corps, but all charges against him were dropped in 1991 following an appeal. Since then, he became an author and hosted Fox News' "War Stories with Oliver North."
"He ran guns to Iran, right?" Lauria told hosts John Kiriakou and Brian Becker.
"He's familiar with guns. Therefore, it makes sense [that he was appointed president of the NRA]. He is still a cultural hero for a large part of the population even though he brazenly went again the US Constitution that these very gun advocates repeatedly cite," he added.
"I think this [the Iran-Contra scandal] was maybe the greatest scandal in US history — and there are so many to choose from. I think it's an even more serious crime than Watergate. Oliver was willing to go behind the back of Congress and trade with the enemy even though Reagan repeatedly said, ‘We will not negotiate with terrorists,' and here they were, selling arms through Israel. The scandal has gone down in terms of awareness — and it shouldn't in my opinion," Lauria added.