Saturday, April 10, 2010

Legends of the Left: Oliver North a "convicted felon"

Apparently quite a few people still believe that Oliver "Ollie" North is a convicted felon.  Those who believe it most stridently seem to hail from the left of the political spectrum, hence the categorization of this fact check post as a Legend of the Left.

How does the political left refer to Ollie North?
The irony of a convicted felon who lied about diverting proceeds from arms sales to a rebel group in Nicaragua supporting a policy that forces gay and lesbian servicemen to lie about their sexual orientation was lost on both Hannity and North.
(ThinkProgress)
*****
Convicted felon manager in Iran Contra crimes ...
(dKosopedia)
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By the way, Oliver North is a convicted felon.
(jsgaetano, from comments at the Huffington Post)
*****
Oliver North, a convicted felon pardoned by Bush Sr. offers his fact checking abilities on Obama's address to congress.
( idiotechnica.com)
*****
The host usually speaks from a position of moral strength, being himself a recovering alcoholic (Glenn Beck), a drug addict (Rush Limbaugh), or a convicted felon (Gordon Liddy, Oliver North).
(Bernard Chazelle, Princeton University)
*****
This brings us to an incident on air several weeks ago that received no publicity. The guest of honor was the heroic, ex-marine-convicted-felon, Oliver (Twisted) North.
(dissidentvoice.org)

You get the idea.

Oliver North was, in fact, convicted on three felony charges out of 16 charges brought against him.  So that makes him a convicted felon, right?

Yes, but only temporarily.  North's conviction was later vacated on appeal.
The Supreme Court declined to review the case, and Judge Gesell dismissed all charges against North on September 16, 1991, after hearings on the immunity issue, on the motion of the independent counsel. Essentially, North's convictions were overturned because he had been granted limited immunity for his Congressional testimony, and this testimony was deemed to have influenced witnesses at his trial.
(NationMaster.com)
Writing after the conviction but before Gesell dismissed the charges, one could call North a "convicted felon" without seriously misleading the reader.  But one could even today reasonably call North a "felon" minus the "convicted" part since factual guilt was more-or-less established even if moral guilt might remain in doubt.

14 comments:

  1. And if you are honest you will admit the part that the ACLU played in getting North's convictions overturned.

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  2. More likely I'd suggest that you're employing what is sometimes called the "if/then" fallacy ("If you're smart then you'll put millions of dollars into this investment that I say will increase your returns a thousandfold!"). The main point of my post is no different if it was the Little Sisters of the Poor who helped overturn the conviction. As I mentioned in the final paragraph, it is fair to say that North is a felon (that is, guilty of a felony). But it is inaccurate at this juncture to refer to him as a convicted felon.

    The involvement of the ACLU was irrelevant to my point and has no bearing on my honesty.

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  3. Wait, you're generalizing "the left" yet becoming semantically nitpicky when called out on the fact that the left played a monumental part in getting North + Poindexter stayed?

    Your title is 'Legends of the Left: Oliver North a "convicted felon"'

    You put convicted felon in quotes. Why? He is a convicted felon. It isn't a Legend of the Left, it's just something that happened. And one of the most leftist organizations possible helped vacate it.

    So it does refer to your honesty, you're being misleading as you characterize the left of creating a legend about him being a convicted felon, when he is one.

    Also, simply because he cut a deal for immunity and had charges vacated due to a technicality doesn't make him any less guilty of the crime. It is a flaw in our "bigger fish" legal system that decides to not punish someone because they can implicate someone else.

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  4. "cb" wrote:

    Wait, you're generalizing "the left" yet becoming semantically nitpicky when called out on the fact that the left played a monumental part in getting North + Poindexter stayed?

    Don't be silly. It's no more generalizing to call the claim about North a "Legend of the Left" than it is to have a category "Goofy Bicycles of California." The latter says nothing about whether California has some number of non-goofy bicycles. It's no generalization.

    Your title is 'Legends of the Left: Oliver North a "convicted felon"'

    Yes, thank you. I have other posts in the "Legends of the Left" series.

    You put convicted felon in quotes. Why?

    Because, as I showed with a number of examples, that exact phrasing is used by (some) bloggers of the left. Was that really some kind of mystery?

    He is a convicted felon. It isn't a Legend of the Left, it's just something that happened. And one of the most leftist organizations possible helped vacate it.

    The fact it was vacated makes it false to say North "is a convicted felon." That's what "vacated" means in legal terms. But I certainly appreciate your efforts to keep the legend alive.

    I'll put it this way: North can answer truthfully on a job application, if this case is the only relevant one, that he has never been convicted of a felony. His record on this point is as if it never had a blemish.
    http://definitions.uslegal.com/v/vacate/

    Lefty bloggers who claim otherwise are spreading a falsehood.

    So it does refer to your honesty, you're being misleading as you characterize the left of creating a legend about him being a convicted felon, when he is one.

    If your claim counter to mine was correct then you'd be right. Unfortunately, your argument has no shred of credibility to it.

    Also, simply because he cut a deal for immunity and had charges vacated due to a technicality doesn't make him any less guilty of the crime.

    Yeah, thanks, but I'm pretty sure I covered that already ("one could even today reasonably call North a "felon" minus the "convicted" part since factual guilt was more-or-less established even if moral guilt might remain in doubt." and "As I mentioned in the final paragraph, it is fair to say that North is a felon (that is, guilty of a felony). But it is inaccurate at this juncture to refer to him as a convicted felon").

    It is a flaw in our "bigger fish" legal system that decides to not punish someone because they can implicate someone else.

    You're quite correct that it's a flaw, if we ignore for the purposes of your argument that many would-be convictions simply wouldn't happen at all without immunity deals. North is a case in point. The case against him rested significantly on testimony he gave conditioned on an immunity agreement. Don't give him the immunity and you probably never have a case against North with a decent chance of success.

    Run along and keep forging that legend. Don't let the truth stop you. ;-)

    http://digitalcommons.lmu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1121&context=llr

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  5. What you're suggesting Bryan is that, with the help of the communist UCLA, Oliver North got off on a technicality. Can't trust him. Too many other good military people in the world who can offer advise and counsel who are not convicted felons with an asterisk next to the conviction record.

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  6. I suppose that UCLA is almost as liberal as the ACLU so it's easy to confuse the two. ;-)

    When the conviction is reversed it does not remain in place with an asterisk. Legally it's just gone.

    If you don't want to trust North, that's fine. Consider regarding with mistrust websites that falsely claim North is a convicted felon.

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  7. Oliver North lied to Congress, as well as participating in an illegal operation that gave weapons to Iran and funded an illegal war in Nicaragua. There is no disputing this. He himself admitted to lying to Congress. He was convicted of that. Even if he got off on a valid technicality and not because he found a sympathetic judge, this doesn't morally exonerate him in any way. He was guilty as charged, end of story.

    Let me put it this way: I would still be a murderer if I killed someone and got off on a technicality. Oliver North was responsible for subverting our democracy (as well as democracy in South America) and for helping to arm Iran. My mind still boggles that Oliver North is a hero of the Right. He helped arm Iran. Insane.

    And yet here is is on Fox News pontificating about Benghazi. This is your hero? A liar, subverter of democracy and arms trader to our our enemies?

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  8. Scott,

    Thanks for dropping by. I hope you'll stop by again and let me know where you think we disagree:

    One could even today reasonably call North a "felon" minus the "convicted" part since factual guilt was more-or-less established even if moral guilt might remain in doubt.

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  9. When one person refers to Oliver North as a "convicted felon", and you accuse them of spreading a "legend" and a "falsehood", I will grant that you are narrowly and technically correct. However, they are correct in every other way that matters.

    Here's how this plays out in the real world. Someone points out how laughable it is that Oliver North is accusing the Obama administration of covering up Benghazi, when Oliver North is himself a convicted felon who lied to Congress about an illegal military operation. Then someone responds with "That's a lie! Oliver North is not a convicted felon!" And the whole conversation gets derailed over a point that's not important.

    Perhaps a reader googles it and ends up here, as I did. And perhaps if they don't read closely, they come away with the impression that the left is totally loony and misinformed, and that Oliver North was perhaps innocent. Even though he admitted to his crimes.

    Do you think you're on the correct moral side of this argument, or just the linguistically correct side?

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  10. "Do you think you're on the correct moral side of this argument, or just the linguistically correct side?"

    I still don't see where you think we disagree, but I'll address your question anyway:

    I think my post is linguistically and legally accurate as well as being on the morally correct side (your question is posed in the form of a false dilemma). I point out the truth accurately and make ample allowance for the caveats you're making. My post is short and to the point, so it is not a great burden for a person to read it thoroughly enough to accurately grasp its point.

    I hope you'll join me in encouraging people to report the facts about North accurately while they sit in moral judgment over him. Cheers.

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  11. Let's say that there are only two things we can say about Oliver North and the Iran-Contra affair.

    1) Oliver North is a convicted felon who admitted to lying to Congress over his participation in an operation that illegally supplied weapons to Iran and funded an illegal war against the democratically elected Sandinista government of Nicaragua.

    2) North can answer truthfully…that he has never been convicted of a felony. Lefty bloggers who claim otherwise are spreading a falsehood.

    This might seem contrived, but many casual readers who didn't live through the Reagan years are only going to be exposed to limited information on the subject.

    I'd argue that the first statement is far closer to the truth, even if the language is slightly problematic.

    The second statement is simply a defense of North and a condemnation of his detractors and the media outlets that give him a voice. It distracts from the truth with semantics.

    I'm picturing the two of us on a road trip in the desert. Our car runs out of gas, hundreds of miles from nowhere, and our satellite phone has only enough charge to make one call. I call for help, saying "our car just broke down, please come get us" and you grab the phone and say "that's a falsehood, our car didn't break down." Yes, technically we didn't break down, we just ran out of gas. The substance of the matter still stands.

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  12. "Let's say that there are only two things we can say about Oliver North and the Iran-Contra affair."

    Why should we do that? There are plenty of things we can say about Oliver North and Iran-Contra without inserting untruths or leaving out vital context.

    I pointed out a string of example of liberal bloggers who posted an untrue statement about North. If you think I've posted something inaccurate or misleading then feel free to point it out.

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  13. We are all flooded with information on a wide range of subjects. Some casual observers will form their opinions based on a quick read and not dig any further. I think you understand this, which is why your defense of Oliver North begins with characterizing the Left as strident and spreading legends, which you back with a long series of quotes before admitting at the end that "factual guilt was more-or-less established."

    Yours is a tactical move. Obviously, the reason why people refer to North as a convicted felon is to point out that he can't be trusted since he was actually convicted of lying to Congress. This isn't a falsehood or a legend. It's not even necessarily ideological - I'm sure there are people on the Right who wouldn't trust him for that reason.

    Signing off now.

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    Replies
    1. Scott, I am not characterizing the left. I provide evidence of a repeated falsehood found on left-leaning blogs. I offer a corrective for the misinformation. That's it.

      As I pointed out, this post is short and to the point. If I buried my conclusions then you could have a point. But my conclusions are just a few sentences. There's no excuse for misunderstanding, unless you'd like to characterize the left as poor readers.

      Delete

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