Now that the witch hunters have had their day in court, President Bush should prepare to pardon Oliver North, says Utah County's No. 1 supporter of the controversial former Marine.
Keith Haines, who graduated with North from the the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968, stands by his former classmate and believes most Americans will demand that Bush pardon North.North was found guilty Thursday of illegally shredding documents, obstruction of justice and accepting an illegal gratuity - a $14,000 home security system. Haines believes all but the illegal gratuity charge will be thrown out on appeal and that Bush will pardon North of that charge by year's end.
"When all is said and done, Ollie North was nothing more than a military man executing his job with the full support and knowledge of his superiors," said Haines, who helped raise money for North's legal defense.
"The man who served as the cutting edge of the Reagan sword brought pride back to America and deserves the thanks and respect of America instead of ridicule and the cutting off of his retirement benefits for his 27 years of quality service."
Until North is pardoned, Haines plans to hold candlelight vigils the 15th of every month. And on May 13, a fund-raiser is scheduled on K-Star radio.
With any luck, Haines said, North will speak Aug. 19 at the annual Sons of Freedom dinner at Camp Williams.
Haines said North's Marine retirement benefits have been stopped as a result of his conviction.
"I believe in him and I stand by him," Haines said of North. He said Marines are trained to forget about themselves and to obey orders while doing what's best for their country.
"But now that attitude has been lost to society. It's been replaced with an attitude of covering your own fanny first. Ollie did his job. He did it with integrity. He was not a loose cannon."
Haines said Americans should realize that more than $40 million of their tax dollars went into prosecuting North. "I don't think very many taxpayers are happy about the waste of time and money and results they got out of this witch hunt."