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Ollie North: hero, patriot…scientist? North has patents on three inventions: the Lightweight Ballistic Protective Device (a bulletproof vest), the Removable Ballistic Resistant Armor Seat Cover and Floor Mat, and the Ballistic Shield (demonstrated, in the patent application illustration, by a ringer for George Bush). These protective devices received patent approval in 1994-95, and North’s company, Guardian Technologies International of Dulles, Va., now sells them to both individuals and government agencies, touting itself as “The Life-Saving Company.” Lifesaving, maybe–money losing, definitely.

North took the company public in 1996, hoping investors would provide a boost. They didn’t. By April of this year, corporate records show that North’s salary had been slashed from $113,740 to $16,014. Although the company announced a “200 percent increase in first-quarter revenues” in May, a closer look shows that it still ran a net loss of more than $160,000 for the quarter.

The deal most responsible for keeping Guardian afloat is a contract from the General Services Administration for body armor and restraining equipment. And how would fans of the retired lieutenant colonel, who frequently lambastes “big-government bureaucrats,” feel about his relying on Uncle Sam to keep his company going? North was unavailable for comment.

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Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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