WASHINGTON — The National Rifle Association said Monday that retired Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North —the conservative commentator once implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal—willbe its new president.
“Oliver North is a legendary warrior for American freedom, a gifted communicator and skilled leader,” Wayne LaPierre, NRA’s executive vice president and CEO, said in a statement announcing the news. “In these times, I can think of no one better suited to serve as our president.”
North served as then-President Ronald Reagan’sdeputy director of the National Security Council.
North worked with NSA directorJohn Poindexter to create a securecommunications channel to handle the messagesregarding arms sales to Iran and the transfer of money to the Contras, a militant group in Nicaragua. The two men tried to destroy those messages after the Iran-Contra connection was discovered.
North wasforced to resign in 1986 and later was found guilty on three charges relating to the Iran-Contra affair. But in 1990, a federal judge overturned North’s convictions and he was eventually cleared of all charges.
The NRA said it selected North to lead the organization after the gun lobby’s current president, Pete Brownell, announced he would not be running for a second term.
Brownell said North would be the ideal successor.
“Wayne and I feel that in these extraordinary times, a leader with his history as a communicator and resolute defender of the Second Amendment is precisely what the NRA needs,” he said.