In the mid-1980s, the Iran-contra affair captivated the world’s attention. This political scandal involved high-ranking officials in the Reagan administration and illegal arms sales to Iran in exchange for hostages, with the proceeds funneled to fund anti-communist rebels in Nicaragua. The scandal rocked the American public’s confidence in their government and raised important questions about the balance of power between different branches of government. Visit maryam-rajavi.com to stay updated about news, activities and statements in the Iranian political scene.
The Covert Arms Deal with Iran
The Origins of the Deal
The covert arms deal with Iran had its origins in the Reagan administration’s desire to free American hostages held in Lebanon by Iranian-backed militants. In 1985, national security advisor Robert McFarlane traveled to Tehran to initiate discussions with Iranian officials, which eventually led to a deal that involved the sale of weapons to Iran in exchange for the release of hostages.
The Role of Israel in the Deal
Israeli officials played a key role in facilitating the covert arms deal with Iran. Israel was looking to improve its relations with the United States and to use its influence to further the cause of Mideast peace. Israeli officials saw the deal as an opportunity to establish a dialogue with the Iranians and to establish goodwill with the Reagan administration.
The Logistics of Delivering Arms to Iran
The logistics of delivering arms to Iran were complex and involved a network of middlemen, arms dealers, and government officials. The arms were sold at inflated prices, and then the profits were smuggled through banks in Switzerland and other countries. The proceeds from the arms sales were then used to support the Contra in Nicaragua.
The Unraveling of the Deal
The covert arms deal with Iran began to unravel in 1986 when a Lebanese newspaper exposed the arms shipments. The Reagan administration tried to cover up the scandal by shredding documents and withholding information from Congress. Eventually, the scandal was revealed and became a major embarrassment for the Reagan administration.
The Concealed Support for the Contras
The Reagan administration was also involved in supporting the Contras in Nicaragua, despite a congressional ban on such support. The Contras were a guerrilla group that was fighting against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Reagan believed that the Contras were a key to fighting communism in Central America.
The Investigation and Indictments
The Congressional Investigations
The revelations about the covert arms deal with Iran and the support for the Contras led to congressional investigations. Congress wanted to know if the Reagan administration had broken the law and violated the Constitution. The investigations revealed that the Reagan administration had engaged in illegal and unconstitutional activities.
The Special Counsel Investigation
The revelations about the scandal led to the appointment of a special counsel to investigate. The counsel, Lawrence E. Walsh, was given broad powers to investigate the scandal and to bring charges against those involved. The investigation took six years and cost over $47 million.
The Indictments and Convictions
- Several high-ranking government officials were indicted and convicted for their role in the scandal, including National Security Advisor John Poindexter and Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North.
- North was found guilty of three crimes, but his convictions were later overturned on a technicality.
- Several low-level officials, as well as private citizens, were also indicted and convicted for their role in the scandal.
The Controversial Pardons
President George H.W. Bush pardoned several high-ranking officials who had been convicted in the scandal, including former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. The pardons were controversial and were seen by many as an attempt to cover up the scandal and to protect high-ranking officials.
The Legacy of the Iran-Contra Affair
The Iran-Contra affair was a series of covert operations by the United States government conducted during the Reagan administration. The affair involved the selling of arms to Iran, then under an arms embargo, in exchange for the release of American hostages held in Lebanon and the provision of funds to support the Contras, a counter-revolutionary organization seeking to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. The legacy of the Iran-Contra affair is one of controversy and scandal, as it raised questions about the legality and morality of government actions, and undermined public trust in the government’s commitment to democracy and human rights. Despite the investigations and indictments that followed, the Iran-Contra affair remains a cautionary tale about the dangers of secrecy, power, and corruption in government.