Oliver North, the newly-appointed head of the National Rifle Association in the US, sneaked into Iran during the Contra scandal with a fake Irish passport. 

Retired Lt. Col. Oliver North, best known for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s, has been named the new president of the National Rifle Association.

During Ronald Reagan’s presidency, North was a military aide to the National Security Council and helped to coordinate the covert sale of weapons to Iran despite the arms ban in place at the time, and then funnel the funds from the sales to Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

Per the AP:

“North, 74, the Marine at the center of the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s and a darling of the right, will be the biggest celebrity to lead the 5-million-member gun lobby since Hollywood leading man Charlton Heston, who famously declared in 2000 that his guns would have to be taken ‘from my cold, dead hands.’”

North participated in the televised congressional hearing on the Iran-Contra scandal and was tried in 1988. He was convicted of three felony charges in 1989 but had them overturned less than two years later.

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One of North’s tactics that emerged during the scandal was his use of a fake Irish passport to enter Iran. The name he used was John Clancy, no doubt an homage to his mother’s name: Ann Theresa Clancy.

Oliver North at CPAC. Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Oliver North at CPAC. Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr

In those decades, it was somewhat common for everyone from the CIA to Mossad agents to journalists to use Irish passports since they were deemed more neutral.

Interestingly, it was announced last year that Colin Farrell had signed on to play North in an Amazon series about the Contra affair, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, with whom Farrell has also collaborated on The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer.

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Despite the great number of Farrell’s film roles that have required him to sport firearms, the Irish actor does not share any of North’s reverence for the Second Amendment.

“I love America, but this country is obsessed with violence. I wouldn’t trust myself with a gun. I wouldn’t,” he said in a 2013 interview with the Irish Mirror.

Colin Farrell at the IFTAS. Photo: Rolling News

Colin Farrell at the IFTAS. Photo: Rolling News

“What if I really get drunk? What if my heart is broken in a moment? Even worse, what if I forget to lock my gun safe? I don’t trust myself.

“Don’t give me a gun. I forget my car keys. This whole issue of gun control is too big for an actor from Ireland to get into.

“But that said, I have been in violent films and I’ve made money from them. I’m not washing my hands of it. I’m looking at myself and saying, ‘Why have I had so many guns in my films?’

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NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre called North “a legendary warrior for American freedom, a gifted communicator and skilled leader."

Avery Gardiner, co-president of the Brady Campaign, commented to the AP: "For an organization so concerned with law and order, picking a new leader who admitted that he lied to Congress is a truly remarkable decision." He noted irony in the fact that the gun lobby now "will be led by a man whose own concealed carry permit was revoked because he was 'not of good character.'"

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Oliver NorthPublic Domain