On This Day, July 17, 1985 – Oliver North Testifies on Iran-Contra

Oliver North and Attorney Reviewing Documents

Lt. Col. Oliver North and his attorney, Brendan Sullivan

1987 – Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North and rear Admiral John Poindexter begin testifying to Congress at the “Iran-Contra” hearings.

In 1985, while Iran and Iraq were at war, Iran made a secret request to buy weapons from the United States. Ronald Reagan had become frustrated at his inability to secure the release of the seven American hostages being held by Iranian terrorists in Lebanon. As president, Reagan felt that “he had the duty to bring those Americans home,” and he convinced himself that he was not negotiating with terrorists. While shipping arms to Iran violated the embargo, dealing with terrorists violated Reagan’s campaign promise never to do so.

While probing the question of the arms-for-hostages deal, Attorney General Edwin Meese discovered that only $12 million of the $30 million the Iranians reportedly paid had reached government coffers. Then-unknown Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North of the National Security Council explained the discrepancy: he had been diverting funds from the arms sales to the Contras, with the full knowledge of National Security Adviser Admiral John Poindexter and with the unspoken blessing, he assumed, of President Reagan.

Poindexter resigned, and North was fired, but Iran-Contra was far from over.


1815 – Napoleon Bonaparte surrendered to the British at Rochefort, France.

1821 – Spain ceded Florida to the U.S.

1866 – Authorization was given to build a tunnel beneath the Chicago River. The three-year project cost $512,709.

1867 – Harvard School of Dental Medicine was established in Boston, MA. It was the first dental school in the U.S.

1941 – The longest hitting streak in baseball history ended when the Cleveland Indians pitchers held New York Yankee Joe DiMaggio hitless for the first time in 57 games.

1941 – Brigadier General Soervell directed Architect G. Edwin Bergstrom to have basic plans and architectural perspectives for an office building that could house 40,000 War Department employees on his desk by the following Monday morning. The building became known as the Pentagon.

1945 – U.S. President Truman, Soviet leader Josef Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill began meeting at Potsdam in the final Allied summit of World War II. During the meeting Stalin made the comment that “Hitler had escaped.”

1950 – The television show “The Colgate Comedy Hour” debuted featuring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

1954 – The Brooklyn Dodgers made history as the first team with a majority of black players.

1955 – Disneyland opened in Anaheim, CA.

1966 – Ho Chi Minh ordered a partial mobilization of North Vietnam forces to defend against American air strikes.

1975 – An Apollo spaceship docked with a Soyuz spacecraft in orbit. It was the first link up between the U.S. and Soviet Union.

1997 – After 117 years, the Woolworth Corp. closed its last 400 stores.

 

Source: On-This-Day.com; PBS.org