Quoting Bible verse and choking with emotion, Oliver North's lawyer said Wednesday the Reagan administration, trying to keep the Nicaraguan Contras alive and rescue U.S. hostages in Lebanon, united in the cry, "Let Ollie do it."
"Ollie North doesn't want to be a hero," Brendan Sullivan said in closing arguments at the former National Security Council aide's trial. "He just wants to go home.""It's like a big octopus," said Sullivan. "The president, McFarlane, Poindexter, Casey . . . they are all reaching out to get Ollie North to run something. . . . They are all reaching out to get him."
Robert McFarlane and John Poindexter were national security advisers to President Reagan, and the late William Casey was CIA director.
In a quavering voice and appearing near tears, Sullivan read the Bible verse that says: "Greater love has no man than he be willing to lay down his life for another."
"That's the kind of man Ollie North is," said Sullivan. "Now he cries out. In a sense he has been a hostage. I ask you on the evidence to set him free."
Earlier, Sullivan said it was "natural instinct" for North to destroy documents because he was engaged in some of the government's most secret operations.
"It's a reasonable thing to do," Sullivan said of North's decision to destroy records as he prepared to leave the National Security Council staff in November 1986. "The act of destroying documents" would be the "natural instinct of anybody running a covert operation."
"Colonel North had charge of running some of the most secret operations" in the government, Sullivan said as North's Iran-Contra trial approached its end.
The former NSC aide is accused of altering, destroying, concealing and removing documents as the Iran-Contra affair emerged publicly in November 1986.
North testified that among the documents he destroyed were memos reflecting the diversion of funds from the sale of weapons to Iran to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. One memo reflecting a planned diversion that North neglected to shred was found in his files on Nov. 22, 1986 by an aide to then-Attorney General Edwin Meese III.
Elsewhere in his closing arguments, Sullivan said highly sensitive information distributed to CIA Director Casey and national security adviser Poindexter in November 1985 showed that Hawk missiles were aboard a flight to Iran.
Sullivan referred to the foreign intelligence data to bolster his defense against charges that North prepared a false chronology of events that prompted Casey and Poindexter to mislead Congress in November 1986.
North is accused of preparing documents stating that no one in the U.S. government knew until January 1986 that Hawks were aboard an aircraft to Iran on the November 1985 flight assisted by the CIA.