Fiona Hill and Fawn Hall: Witnesses to White House crimes present and past
Left: Former White House national security aide Fiona Hill is sworn in to testify before the House Intelligence Committee, Nov. 21, 2019, during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. Right: Fawn Hall, former secretary to former National Security aide Lt. Col. Oliver North is sworn in before the Iran-Contra committee, June 8, 1987. Hall told the panel that files and telephone logs from the offices of North detailing the weapons scheme were shredded. | Hill photo: Andrew Harnik; Hall photo: John Duricka / AP

Fiona Hill and Fawn Hall. Similar names, both assigned to the National Security Council. But how different these two women are.

In 1987, Fawn Hall and Lt. Col. Oliver North spent hours shredding documents in the basement of the White House scrambling to conceal President Ronald Reagan’s criminal Iran-Contra conspiracy. Granted immunity in exchange for testimony, Hall told of smuggling secret memos out of the White House hidden in her underwear. These were documents exposing the criminal enterprise of selling shiploads of TOW missiles to Iran, stolen from the Pentagon, and then laundering the profits through numbered Swiss bank accounts to buy weapons for the anti-Sandinista contras who murdered many thousands of innocent Nicaraguans.

I covered the Iran-contra hearings gavel to gavel. They were in the same Senate Caucus Room where the Watergate hearings were conducted. I covered them gavel to gavel, too.

Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday, Dr. Fiona Hill told the Trump impeachment hearings that she grew up in poverty. Her grandfather and father, she told committee members, were both coal miners in northern England. She said her father always dreamed of moving to the United States and working as a coal miner but never made it. She explained that her working class accent would have barred her from higher education and a professional or academic career in the United Kingdom. Not so in the U.S.

She expressed a deep love of the United States for its egalitarianism and the way so many of its people welcome immigrants of all races and nationalities from around the world.

She also made very, very clear that Trump’s attempt to extort Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden in exchange for Trump’s releasing the weapons already approved by Congress is a “quid pro quo”—a brazen violation of law by Trump.

Hall and Hill are different. But it shows that the White House was a center for criminal, covert operations long before Trumpgate. And we should never forget that the strutting Oliver North did not spend a day in jail for his murderous crimes. Ronald Reagan, too escaped punishment.

Vice President George H.W. Bush was even more deeply engaged in the war crime than Reagan. Yet he was elected president in 1988. This time around, we need to work overtime to insure that Trump does not manage to elude justice and even win re-election.

I watch these hearings and a voice asks: “So what else is new?” These White House crimes have been going on for decades. It is not new to me. But for many millions, these hearings are exposing the reality of crimes in high places for the first time. Our task is to show them the fascist-like menace of these crimes and mobilize the millions to vote to remove this cancer on our democracy in 2020.

Thank you Dr. Hill! Your testimony helps. And Ms. Hall, your testimony should have put Reagan behind bars.


Tim Wheeler
Tim Wheeler

Tim Wheeler estimates he has written 10,000 news reports, exposés, op-eds, and commentaries in his half-century as a journalist for the Worker, Daily World and People’s World. Tim also served as editor of the People’s Weekly World newspaper. He lives in Sequim, Wash., in the home he shared with his beloved late wife Joyce Wheeler. His book News for the 99% is a selection of his writings over the last 50 years representing a kind of history of the nation and the world from a working-class point of view.