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THE IRAN CONTRA AFFAIR The Iran-Contra Affair concerns a secret arrangement to provide 30 million to the Nicaraguan right-wing contra guerrillas from profits gained by selling arms to Iran Aid to the contras had been strictly prohibited by Congress as had the sale of arms to a government deemed hostile to the US Discovery of the arrangement in 1985-1986 shook President Ronald Reagans administration Most directly involved were Adm John M Poindexter and Marine Lt Col Oliver North both of the National Security Council It was deemed unclear whether Reagan and then-Vice President George Bush were also involved though North later claimed Reagan knew of the secret arrangement The sale of arms to Iran was initiated at the suggestion of the Israeli government with the dual goal of bettering their relations with Iran and of obtaining the release of American hostages held in Lebanon by pro-Iranian terrorists Reagan told the American people We will not negotiate with terrorists and the American people believed him North was instrumental in setting up a covert network for providing support to the guerrillas with a ship airplanes an airfield and secret bank accounts In November 1986 a Lebanese magazine disclosed that the US government had negotiated an arms deal with Iran Later that month Atty General Ed Meese verified the breaking of the Boland Amendment In February of 1987 a special panel - headed by Senator John Tower of Texas - issued a report castigating President Reagan and his advisors for failing to control their own NSC uncovered a web of official deception mismanagement and illegality A number of criminal convictions resulted - including those of North and Poindexter in May of 1989 - but they were vacated on appeal for technical reasons despite Norths admission of obstructing Congress and destroying all copies of incriminating government documents Former State Department and CIA officials pleaded guilty in 1991 to withholding information from
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