Ollie North Comes to OC for Book Signings
Oliver North has published his first work of fiction and will meet local residents to discuss and sign his book Friday.
If the man has writing chops, this book is bound to be a blockbuster.
That’s the impression a seasoned newswriter and would-be novelist comes away with after almost an hour with Oliver North on the telephone.
North, who catapulted to national and international fame during his testimony in the 1980s before the Senate committee investigating the Reagan administration’s activities in the Iran-Contra affair, has written a thriller that is based on some of his own experiences as counter-terrorist.
He will visit three local sites on Friday, Sept. 20, to sign copies of the book.
He will be at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda at 11 a.m. At 3 he will spend an hour at the Berean Christian Store, 1440 S. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton. Then at 6 he will be at The Lighthouse Bookstore on Bellflower Boulevard and Spring (Cerritos) Street in Long Beach.
North’s book, Mission Compromised, is the first in a trilogy co-written with Joe Musser.
“I’m not out to settle any scores,” he said. “But some of my experiences are included in the book.”
The action is set during the Clinton administration and the protagonist, Maj. Peter Newman, heads a secret counterterrorism unit that was led by North in real life.
Newman, who occupies North’s old office, comes across secret files hidden in a safe during the 1980s. This is the link between the past and current events in the Middle East. His task is to assassinate both Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, who are to meet in Iraq.
But his mission is compromised when bin Laden and Hussein are tipped off, with catastrophic results to Newman’s men.
The gritty reality in the book comes from North’s experiences as he traveled the world using the alias William P. Goode. According to North, “the device created” for Goode’s mission was compromised, in the same way that his own operations were compromised, allowing Abu Nidal to learn Goode’s true identity.
During the Iran-Contra hearings, when questioned by senators about the elaborate security set up at his Virginia home, North revealed that there had been a “credible threat” against his family.
What he did not reveal is that the credible threat was actually a plan unfolding when the FBI stepped in.
“That was a great success story for the FBI,” North said. “When Abu Nidal found out who I was, he dispatched some students from McLane, Va., to kill me and my entire family.”
When the FBI intercepted the students, who were actually on their way to North’s home, they found rocket propelled grenade launchers, hand grenades, explosives and machine guns.
Bu the really chilling thing is that they also found complete architectural and mechanical plans to the North home, including the bedrooms where each of his three children slept and the location of the bedroom shared by him and his wife.
“We were immediately brought to Camp LeJeune where we stayed for two weeks,” said North. “It was very frightening.”
While assuring that he does not compromise national security, he provides details about his activities that have not been known until now. Some of those projects are used today and provide a basis for the security measures taken on September 11.
However, North has tough words for the Carter and Clinton administrations.
“The Carter administration left only 10 percent of our covert national security program in place,” he said. “Then Clinton wrecked what was already destroyed.”
“Ten years ago they fired all the spies and hired satellites,” he said. “We can see the numbers on a license plates from space — which is fine if you think you’ll be attacked by a license plate.”
On the day four passenger jets were turned into missiles, North knew as soon as he found out about the attacks that Osama bin Laden was behind them. “I was in a plane from Detroit as the plane was coming toward the Pentagon,” he said. “Our pilot could see that plane.”
While he was surprised by the specific nature of the attacks, North said it did not surprise him that such an act could be planned and completed.
“Back during the hearings in the 80s, this is what I was talking about when I said that the world is a very dangerous place,” he said. “People may not have believed it then, but I don’t think anyone doubts it now.”
But North believes there is good news in the War on Terrorism. “My sense is that bin Laden was killed in December,” he said. “You have to look at his past behavior. He never went more than four days without giving some sort of press conference. Every four months he staged a demonstration of his power. If he’s alive now, he would be doing that.”
He also does not believe Saddam Hussein has nuclear bombs at this time. “If he could have sent over a nuclear device of any kind, he would certainly have done it,” he said. “If the terrorists that attacked us on September 11 could have used nuclear weapons, they most certainly would have.
“That doesn’t mean it isn’t an imminent danger. We have to face that fact.”
What does North think of these international characters who have terrorized the world? Are they brilliant masterminds or just crazy fanatics?
“Some of the guys at the top are smart,” he said. “But not all of them and not that smart. You have to remember they did not think the World Trade Center would come down. Bin Laden said that right afterward.
“But the average guy who goes on a suicide mission is a product of a dysfunctional family where the father is not there. He is young and impressionable and he goes to study at a madrassa, where he is approached by a charismatic and dedicated terrorist like Mohammed Atta. They’re just buying into the martyr’s death notions and they are easily influenced. They’re not that bright.
“You didn’t see bin Laden blowing himself up, or Mulla Omar either. They are smarter than that.”
North compares the terrorist network to the Mafia and those at the top as “Mafia dons.”
“You have some who are really brilliant and you have some who are just well organized and good at following orders,” he said.
“But they’re all dangerous characters.”
North has used today’s events to illustrate the importance of maintaining a vigorous counter-terrorism effort that continues through the changing political winds in Washington.
The fact that it also gives us inside information on how those efforts work is an added bonus.
To those of us who were riveted by North’s testimony before the Iran-Contra Committee, the fact that it reveals some of what could not be revealed at the time, is pure icing on the cake.
Mission Compromised is published by Broadman & Holman Publishers. It sells for $24.95.
So sure are they that the book will be a success, the publisher has oredered 50,000 copies in addition to the initial order of 300,000.
North’s previous non-fiction works, Under Fire and One More Mission, were international best sellers.
Could there be a book deal in the works? “I’d be crazy if I didn’t think this would make a great movie,” he said. But there’s no deal yet.
“I’m on the road (in a bus used for Dolly Parton’s last tour) to meet the fans who helped make Under Fire a best seller,” he said.
“I also want to show people the sacrifice made by military families. I’ve wanted to address that issue in print for a long time.”
Under Fire was at the top of the best seller lists for weeks. So far, Mission Compromised is in the top 100.
A string of personal appearances across the country may just boost it to the top as well.
By Cheryl Scott