Iran Contra Iran Contra: Hidden Policy In 1922 President Franklin Roosevelt introduced the “Good Neighbor” Policy. This policy was created to keep the United States from getting involved in problems that could and would occur in Central America. This policy, however, did not stop many government agencies from interfering and creating a few new problems for United States neighbors. Of course, all of this was done in an aim to better the political position of the United States. In 1953, the Central Intelligence Agency created a rumor of an assassination attempt in Guatemala to run the corrupt government out of the country. This is a perfect example of the United States sidestepping policy and becoming entangled in Latin American affairs.
History of course, was destined to repeat itself. Only this time, it would be a scandal that would shake the very foundation of a nation. When President Reagan was elected in 1980, he came into office promising to restore America’s military and moral prestige in the world. Voters responded when he pledged to be tough on terrorists, a vow he repeated time and time again: “Let me further make it plain to assassins in Beirut and their accomplices, wherever they may be, that America will never make concessions to terrorists.” Was this vow strictly a campaign promise made that he never intended to honor? In 1970 in Nicaragua, President Anastasio Somona Debayle fled the country. A civil war had been devastating the nation’s economy.
The Nicaraguans were tired of the Somonzas ruling their tiny country. They wanted change. They wanted the Sandinistas. The Sandinistas promised free enterprise but what they brought was political oppression. The United States tried to form an alliance with them but the Sandinistas grew closer to the USSR.
Many Nicaraguans rejected this government. They decided to fight back. The rebel Nicaraguans groups that formed was known as the contras. The largest of these rebel groups were the Nicaraguan Democratic Force (NDF). President Reagan had long ago taken a stand against the Sandanistan regime. He “embraced ” the opponents of the Sandinistas.
Originally; they received aid from the Argentinean government. The rebels, however, eventually needed “big money” and it was then that they turned to the United States. In 1981, the United States began to fund the contras. The Central Intelligence Agency, which was headed by William Casey at the time, was the agency most involved. However, public protests over this aid were very vocal. Many Americans were uneasy about this aid because they were concerned the situation might develop into another Vietnam. Deep divisions within Congress over the civil war in Nicaragua led to the passage of the Boland Amendments to the United States Constitution. Boland I was legislation that essentially “prohibits the CIA from supplying money, arms, training, or support to individuals or organizations seeking to over throw the Nicaraguan government or to provoke a military exchange between Nicaragua and Honduras” .
In October 1984, the Boland II Amendment passed ending all U.S. assistance to the contras. This amendment was very carefully worded because of the dissention in Congress. It states: During fiscal year 1985, no further funds available to the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, or any other agency or entity of the United States involved intelligence activities may be obligated or expended for the purpose or which would have the effect of supporting directly or indirectly, military or para-military operations in Nicaragua by any nations, group, organization, movement, or individual. (Document 5, Publich Law 98-473, [Boland II], Section 8066 [A}, 10/12/84 Funding would have a limit of twenty four million in 1984. The Administration would have the option to request additional funds from Congress at a later date. Although this cap was a compromise of sorts between the Reagan Administration and Congress, it would definitely put the contra program in jeopardy.
In compliance with the law, large numbers of staff from the CIA and the Defense department were withdrawn from Central America. In the wake of the Boland I Amendment and the cap on spending, Robert C. McFarlane, Reagan’s National Security Advisor, suggested soliciting support from other third world countries. CIA director, William Casey agreed and made several suggestions as to who should be approached. Contact was then made to solicit said funds.
When a one million-dollar contribution was received in 1984, McFarlane turned to Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North of the National Security Council to set up bank accounts to move these monies into contra hands. Later when the Reagan’s Administration was unable to convince Congress to do away with the twenty-four million-dollar cap on contra aid, North was informed that President Reagan wished “the NSC staff had to keep the contras alive body and soul.” North was instrumental in setting up a covert network, which provided support to the contras. Initially these efforts, were merely a broadening of the efforts to solicit funds from other sources. North also provided the contras with counsel and support. He was instrumental in bringing the retired United States Air Force Major General Richard V.
Secord in this operation as an arms broker. North worked with McFarlane to obtain the cooperation of Honduras. Honduran support was essential as many of the contra encampments were in Honduras. Later support from Costa Rica would be gotten on the behalf of the contras. Also, it was North along with Fernandez and Fiers who engineered the plan to use Enterprise to transport secrete shipments to the contras.
The sale of arms to Iran was initiated with the dual goal of bettering relations with Iran and obtaining the release of the American hostages being held in Lebanon by pro-Iranian terrorists. This was a direct violation of the Boland Amendment. Nevertheless, a clandestine plan was devised within the United States National Security Commission to arrange the support. Profits from these sales were then channeled to the Nicaraguan contras for use against the leftist Sandinistas government. The chief negotiator of these deals was Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North. North reported his activities initially to National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, the council’s head, and subsequently to his successor Vice Admiral John M.
Poindexter. These illegal activities all came to light in 1986, causing the Reagan administration much embarrassment. On October 5, 1986 an Enterprise C-123K plane with lethal supplies carrying three Americans was brought down by Sandinistas ground fire. The only survivor, Eugene Hasenfus was captured. He claimed to be working for the CIA.
The Sandinistas confiscated documents connecting the plane with the Nicaraguan Humanitarian Assistance Office, which President Reagan had established within the State Department in 1985. Immediately Administrative officials denied Hasenfus claims to be working for the CIA. They were truthful in this matter. However, the deception continued as they denied having any knowledge concerning this shipment. There was confusion and disarray at the highest levels of government.
McFarlane embarked on a dangerous trip to Tehran under a complete misconception. He thought the Iranians had promised to secure the release of all hostages before he delivered arms, when in fact they had promised only to seek the hostages’ release, and then only after one planeload of arms had arrived. In November 1986, an article about McFarlane’s trip to Tehran appeared in a Lebanese newspaper. On November 25, 1986, President Reagan and Attorney General Edwin Meese announced that indeed proceeds from the Iran arms sales had been diverted to support the contras. Poindexter resigned and North was dismissed. The United States Constitution specifies the process by which laws and policy are to be made and executed. Constitutional process is the essence of democracy. A democratic form of Government is the basis of the strength of the United States.
Time and again it has been proven that a flawed process leads to …