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The Iran-Contra affair is not one scandalous incident but rather two covert operations started under Reagans administration In the beginning these two operations were independent of each other but eventually became linked though funds received from the sale of arms to Iran for hostages and then given to the Contras fighting to overthrow a Marxist government in Nicaragua The scandal began with Nicaraguan politics After the Marxist Sandinista regime took over Nicaragua in 1979 the government was faced with a growing communist threat to US interest in Central America When President Reagan took office in 1981 he was vehemently determined to halt the spread of communism especially in Central America Arnson 1989 8 Seeking to bolster US prestige and military power Reagan took a tough stand against communism in the Western Hemisphere In Nicaragua he gave the Central Intelligence Agency the approval to help organize and aid a group of Contrarevolucionarios or Contras who were in opposition to the Sandinista regime Arnson 1989 6 Congress unwilling to fight in another countrys war after the devastating loss in Vietnam began restricting the use of government funds for rebel guerrillas in Central America The CIA concerned that soon Congress would cut off the funding for their program began to stockpile arms for the contras Walsh 1997 18 Their fears were realized when Congress enacted the second Boland Amendment which stated No funds available tot he Central Intelligence Agency the Department of Defense or any other agency or entity of the United States involved in intelligence activities may be obligated or expended for the purpose of which would have the effect of supporting directly or indirectly military or paramilitary operations in Nicaragua by any nation group organization movement or individual Arnson 1989 167-8 The Reagan administration interpreted the Boland Amendment as not covering the activities of the National Security Council NSC The NSC was established in 1947 with the explicit purpose of advising
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