Oliver North is a media personality whose fame stems from lying while under oath to the United States Congress when he was at the center of the Iran-Contra scandal of the Ronald Reagan administration. A decorated platoon leader in the Vietnam War, Oliver North began working in the White House for the National Security Council in 1981, eventually becoming deputy director for Political-Military Affairs in the Reagan
administration. In 1986 it was revealed that a secret U.S. operation had been selling military equipment to Iran, in exchange for the release of U.S. hostages, and that money from the arms sales was being illegally diverted to help anti-socialist forces (called Contras) fight the government of Daniel Ortega
in Nicaragua. At the time, President Reagan had publicly promised "no arms for hostages," while members of his inner circle were busy doing exactly that. From May until August of 1987, the Iran-Contra scandal and its televised hearings put the spotlight on North, who donned his uniform and admitted that he acted illegally, but out of patriotism. His felony convictions were eventually overturned, and depending on who's talking, North was either a traitorous drug smuggler or a national hero who saved Central America from communism. In 1994 he earned the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, but lost the election. North remains in the public eye as a conservative political pundit and media personality: he has written his own syndicated column, headed the radio program Common Sense Radio
, and hosted the Fox News program War Stories
. His war novels, written with Joe Musser, include Mission Compromised
(2002), Jerico Sanction
(2003) and Assassins
(2005). The National Rifle Association named him president of their organization in 2018.