Ronald Reagan, Caspar Weinberger, George Shultz, Ed Meese, and Don Regan in 1986.
They are our brothers, these freedom fighters, and we owe them our help. I've spoken recently of the freedom fighters of Nicaragua. You know the truth about them. You know who they're fighting and why. They are the moral equal of our Founding Fathers and the brave men and women of the French Resistance. We cannot turn away from them, for the struggle here is not right versus left; it is right versus wrong.
A telling indictment of the U.S. policy of attempting to destabilize Nicaragua through a campaign of terror directed at its people. The testimony of the victims of contra attacks exposes the policy of torture, murder, rape, kidnapping, and random violence employed by the people Ronald Reagan describes as "the moral equals of our founding fathers".
Direct funding of the Contras insurgency had been made illegal through the Boland Amendment aimed at limiting U.S. government assistance to the Contras militants. In violation of the Boland Amendment, senior officials of the Reagan administration continued to secretly arm and train the Contras and provide arms to Iran, an operation they called "the Enterprise".
The CIA had written a manual for the Nicaraguan Contras (then involved in a civil war with the Nicaraguan government), entitled Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare. The ninety-page book of instructions focused mainly on how "Armed Propaganda Teams" could build political support in Nicaragua for the Contra cause through deceit, intimidation, and violence. The manual discussed assassinations. The CIA claimed that the purpose of the manual was to "moderate" the extreme violence already being used by the Contras.
Alexander Haig talks to Caspar Weinberger while David Gergen and CIA director William Casey look on.
President Ronald Reagan holds up t-shirt in anti-communism rally in 1984.
Ronald Reagan was the first American president to put "terrorism" at the heart of his foreign policy discourse. During his first term, Reagan did so mostly in reference to conflicts in Central America.
Shimon Peres with Ronald Reagan
The U.S. requested assistance from Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres for help in the sale of arms to Iran. At the time, Iran was in the midst of the Iran—Iraq War and could find few Western nations willing to supply it with weapons. The idea behind the plan was for Israel to ship weapons through an intermediary to a supposedly moderate, politically influential Iranian group opposed to the Ayatollah Khomeni. Although Reagan claims that the arms sales were to a "moderate" faction of Iranians, the Walsh Iran/Contra Report states that the arms sales were "to Iran" itself, which was under the control of the Ayatollah.
Investigators probing B.C.C.I. have told TIME that the Iran-contra affair is linked to the burgeoning bank scandal. Former government officials and other sources confirm that the CIA stashed money in a number of B.C.C.I. accounts that were used to finance covert operations; some of these funds went to the contras. Investigators also say an intelligence unit of the U.S. defense establishment has used the bank to maintain a secret slush fund, possibly for financing unauthorized covert operations. More startling yet, even before North set up his network for making illegal payments to the contras, the National Security Council was using B.C.C.I. to channel money to them. The funds were first sent to Saudi Arabia to disguise their White House origins; then they were deposited into a B.C.C.I. account maintained by contra leader Adolfo Calero.
At the European end of this money-laundering scheme, Zucker made equivalent transfers from North's Swiss bank accounts (containing profits from U.S. arms sales to Iran) into the Swiss accounts of the money-launderers. That way, the money-launderers could turn their "dirty" money in the United States into "clean" money in Europe.
Webb demonstrates how our government knowingly allowed massive amounts of drugs and money to change hands at the expense of our communities.
It's impossible to believe that the Central Intelligence Agency didn't know about the Contras' fund-raising activities in Los Angeles, considering that the agency was bankrolling, recruiting and essentially running the Contra operation.
An August, 1996, series in the San Jose Mercury News by reporter Gary Webb linked the origins of crack cocaine in California to the contras, a guerrilla force backed by the Reagan administration that attacked Nicaragua's Sandinista government during the 1980s. ... The documents demonstrate official knowledge of drug operations, and collaboration with and protection of known drug traffickers.
The logic of having drug money pay for the pressing needs of the Contras appealed to a number of people who became involved in the covert war. Indeed, senior U.S. policy makers were not immune to the idea that drug money was a perfect solution to the Contra's funding problems.
The Iran-Contra Affair... bizarre tale of sheer incompetence and conspiratorial malfeasance.
By their nature, covert operations make it possible to put the good name or best interests of the country in such jeopardy that the only way to escape from the cost of failure or exposure is the ability to deny that they ever happened or to put the blame on someone else.
Colonel North testified that he had "intensified" his destruction of documents the day before, when he learned the officials would be coming, and had continued to shred files even while they were in his office.
This sampling of some of the most revealing documentation to come out of the affair gives a clear indication of how deeply involved the president was in terms of personally directing or approving different aspects of the affair. The list of other officials who also played significant parts, despite their later denials, includes Vice President George H.W. Bush, Secretary of State George P. Shultz, Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger, CIA Director William J. Casey, White House Chief of Staff Donald T. Regan, and numerous other senior and mid-level officials, making this a far broader scandal than the White House portrayed it at the time.
Iran/Contra was not a scandalous exception to generally benign American foreign policy but the logical continuation of covert actions that had been going on at least since the Kennedy administration, and roundly denounced in this magazine at every turn.
The Nicaraguan government sued the United States before the International Court of Justice which ruled in favor of Nicaragua mandating the payment of compensation, which the United States refused to do. Compliance proved futile as the United States, a permanent member of the Security Council, blocked any enforcement mechanism attempted by Nicaragua.