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FAREWELL TO A PRESIDENT

North Contends He Would Be a Distraction at Funeral

June 11, 2004|Vicki Kemper

WASHINGTON — Oliver L. North, the decorated Marine who came to personify the Iran-Contra scandal with his ramrod-straight testimony before Congress, will make a sacrifice today for his hero and former boss: He will not attend former President Reagan's funeral.

Recalling a conversation he had Wednesday with William P. Clark, former national security advisor and Reagan confidant, North said: "I told him I did not think I should be a distraction at this, and if I went, I would be."

"Every doggone camera in the place would be shooting pictures of me instead of paying attention to what was going on," he said in a telephone interview from Key West, Fla.

North, host of the Fox News Channel program "War Stories with Oliver North," said he thought the media would try to make something out of his presence if he went to the funeral.

"I had the national press corps camped on my front lawn for nine straight months" during the Iran-Contra scandal, said North, who served as a national security aide in the Reagan White House. "And that's not what this is about."

Although he will miss being at the funeral, North said, he was taking a long view of events.

"I revere Ronald Reagan," he said. "I certainly spent plenty of time with him in the past and I know I'll be with him in the future.... Those of us who know where we are going, and know why we are going there, have no doubt that he is now in that shining city on a hill."

-- Vicki Kemper

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