A number of pages in Oliver North's hand-written notebooks include cryptic references to drugs and drug traffic, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has taken legal action to find out more.
The committee voted 16-1 Tuesday to subpoena the diaries of the former White House aide, deeming them crucial to an investigation into possible connections between narcotics and his supply network for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels.The notes were made between September 1984 and November 1986, a period that includes the months when North, as a National Security Council deputy, managed secret U.S. arms sales to Iran and a diversion of profits to the Contras.
Kept in spiral notebooks, the diaries have been held by North and his lawyer, Brendan Sullivan, and though legally obtained last summer by the congressional committees that probed the Iran-Contra scandal, a large part of the contents were not made available.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who sought the subpoena vote, noted afterward, "The law is the law. They're compelled to deliver them up to us now."
Kerry, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee's narcotics and terrorism panel, is leading the investigation of alleged Contra drug connections.
North and Sullivan could not be reached for comment on Tuesday's action. Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C, was the only committee member in opposition, saying he was reluctant to "get Oliver North involved in yet another thing while he is under indictment."
North, who has retired as a Marine lieutenant colonel, was indicted March 16 with three other central Iran-Contra figures on various criminal charges of conspiracy to defraud the government and obstruction of justice.
Kerry said 2,848 pages of North's diaries were given to the House and Senate Iran-Contra committees last year, but nearly half the entries were blacked out by North and Sullivan. The White House has since classified the entries.