The National Rifle Association has always been clear about drugs: They’re terrifying.
Last year, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre darkly warned that members of drug gangs “are infiltrating law enforcement and even the military.” In 2013, LaPierre proclaimed that “Latin American drug gangs have invaded every city of significant size in the United States,” and are a key part of the “hellish world” that awaits us in the future. When Charlton Heston was president of the NRA in the 1990s, he declared that regular Americans would soon be besieged by 10,000 drug dealers freed from prison by the Clinton administration.
It seems odd, then, that the next president of the NRA will soon be Oliver North, who spent years in the 1980s working together with large-scale cocaine traffickers and protecting a notorious narco-terrorist from the rest of the U.S. government.
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This reality about North has been largely covered up, first by North himself and then by Fox News and the passage of time. Thirty years later, it’s been almost totally forgotten. But the facts remain genuinely appalling.
North was an active-duty Marine when he joined the Reagan administration’s National Security Council in 1981. One of Reagan’s top priorities was organizing and funding the Contras, a guerrilla military force, to overthrow the revolutionary socialist Sandinista government of Nicaragua. But the Contras engaged in extensive, gruesome terrorism against Nicaraguan civilians. Congress gradually reduced and then eliminated appropriations supporting them, leading the Reagan administration to secretly search for money elsewhere.
According to the report from a later congressional investigation, North was put in charge of this operation, which participants dubbed “The Enterprise.”
North enthusiastically looked for cash wherever he could find it, and led many of the clandestine schemes that later became known as the Iran-Contra scandal. The Sultan of Brunei donated $10 million (which North’s secretary Fawn Hall accidentally wired to the wrong Swiss bank account), and Saudi Arabia ponied up as well. North also pushed what he called “a neat idea”: selling U.S. military equipment to Iran, with the proceeds passed along to the Contras.
Meanwhile, the Contras had a neat idea of their own: