The Iran-Contra scandal that led to the indictment of several Ronald Reagan Administration officials and sullied Reagan’s presidency began to unravel on this date 31 years ago when CIA contract pilot Eugene Hasenfus’ plane was shot down in Nicaragua on October 5, 1986.
The Iran-Contra scandal and ensuing “outrage” over it from the political establishment was nothing more than political kabuki. The gist of the scandal is this: The Reagan Administration concocted an arms sale deal with Iran that included arms-for-hostages and that violated an embargo against that nation. It also violated the Boland Amendment that prohibited U.S. funds from going to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua.
The U.S. was the largest seller of arms to Iran while the U.S. puppet dictator of Iran, Shah Reza Pahlavi, was in charge. The Shah had been re-installed to power through a CIA-backed coup 1953 and propped up by the U.S. and UK until he was finally overthrown by radical Islamist elements in 1978. Months later, supporters of the Iranian Revolution that forced out the Shah seized the U.S. Embassy in Iran, capturing 52 Americans. The hostage crisis would last for four 444 days.
Among the many actions President Jimmy Carter took against Iran during the crisis was the installation of an arms embargo. That – along with U.S. support of CIA-installed Saddam Hussein in Iraq – made the Iranians, who were at war with Iraq, open to making a deal with even “The Great Satan.”
The Deep State, meanwhile, was playing politics in Central America. Deposing democratically-elected regimes and installing right wing dictatorial puppet governments amenable to U.S. corporate interests and bribing local officials is costly business and money was needed. Where it came from was irrelevant.
Using Israel as a middle man, the U.S. sold military arms and hardware to Iran and turned the cash around to use to foment war in Nicaragua.
When Hasenfus was captured and questioned by the Sandinista regime, he confessed that he was shipping military supplies to the Contras on behalf of the CIA. Those revelations opened up a Congressional investigation.
That investigation, like all Congressional investigations, was mostly for show. It gave congressweasels and administration officials camera time in which to foment the false right-left paradigm in Washington and succeeded in lowering even further Americans’ confidence in government, confidence that had not fully recovered after the Watergate scandal.
The truth is, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans were surprised or appalled that such deals were taking place. The CIA had been running similar operations for decades and continue doing it to this day. But it made for good TV and headlines at the time.