Friday, February 04, 2011

St. Reagan and the Iran-Contra affair

The Iran-Contra scandal was the event that detracted the most from Ronald Reagan's image during his Presidency, though his hardcore admirers enthusiastically supported the controversial operations involved. This report from the National Security Archives has a good general summary and many links to more recently available documents, The Iran-Contra Affair 20 Years On 11/24/2006:

On November 25, 1986, the biggest political and constitutional scandal since Watergate exploded in Washington when President Ronald Reagan told a packed White House news conference that funds derived from covert arms deals with the Islamic Republic of Iran had been diverted to buy weapons for the U.S.-backed Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

In the weeks leading up to this shocking admission, news reports had exposed the U.S. role in both the Iran deals and the secret support for the Contras, but Reagan's announcement, in which he named two subordinates -- National Security Advisor John M. Poindexter and NSC staffer Oliver L. North -- as the responsible parties, was the first to link the two operations.

The scandal was almost the undoing of the Teflon President. Of all the revelations that emerged, the most galling for the American public was the president's abandonment of the long-standing policy against dealing with terrorists, which Reagan repeatedly denied doing in spite of overwhelming evidence that made it appear he was simply lying to cover up the story.

Despite the damage to his image, the president arguably got off easy, escaping the ultimate political sanction of impeachment. From what is now known from documents and testimony -- but perhaps not widely appreciated -- while Reagan may not have known about the diversion or certain other details of the operations being carried out in his name, he directed that both support for the Contras (whom he ordered to be kept together "body and soul") and the arms-for-hostages deals go forward, and was at least privy to other actions that were no less significant. [my emphasis]
From St. Reagan's address to the nation in which he admits having "traded arms for hostages":




The Federation of American Scientists, a great resource for a lot of things like this, has a copy of The "Walsh Report", the final report from Iran-Contra special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh. It's formal title is Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Contra Matters 08/04/1993.

Congress investigated the matter, as well. Their findings are an important part of the historical record on Iran-Contra. See Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran/Contra Affair by Lee H. Hamilton, Daniel K. Inouye. Excerpts are also provided by the American Presidency Project at UC-Santa Barbara.

Wyoming Congressman Dick Cheney's Iran-Contra defense would provide to be a significant step onto the road that took the United States into invading Iran and directly employing sadistic torture as a terror measure in foreign policy.

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