President Bush says he wishes convicted felon Oliver North had been absolved of all crimes in the Iran-Contra affair but says, "I'm not going to argue with the courts."

Bush, who has the power to pardon North, said Tuesday he would not comment on the case further as North appeals the verdict. North was convicted last Thursday on three of 12 felony counts.The president broke his silence on the North verdict during a brief question-and-answer session with reporters in the Oval Office.

Asked his opinion of the verdict, Bush said, "As you know, I wanted all along to see him exonerated."

"The matter is now under appeal and thus I'll have nothing more to say about it while it is," said Bush, who has called North a hero.

Bush was asked, "You don't believe in shredding documents, do you?"

He scooped up some documents he'd left on his desk and said, "No, I believe in taking them with me."