30+ Years of Freedom of Information Action

Iran-Contra Affair, 1985-1994

Feb 22, 2019 | Briefing Book
Washington D.C., February 22, 2019 – The movie VICE, nominated for eight Academy Awards including the best picture Oscar, shows on screen several documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Those documents relate to then-Vice President Dick Cheney’s meetings with oil company lobbyists discussing potential drilling in Iraq. But at least a dozen other declassified records deserve screen time before Sunday’s Oscars show, according to the National Security Archive’s publication today of primary sources from Cheney’s checkered career.

Feb 7, 2019 | Briefing Book
Washington, DC, February 7, 2019 – Attorney-General nominee William P. Barr figured prominently in arguments to limit CIA responsibility to provide notification to Congress about covert actions during the 1980s, according to a review of declassified materials published today by the National Security Archive at the George Washington University.

Dec 9, 2018 | Special Exhibit
The Reagan-era Iran-Contra affair lit up the political skies over Washington for well over a year in the late 1980s.  The biggest scandal since Watergate, it dominated the news starting in late 1986, when word broke about the administration’s illegal backing of Contra rebels in Nicaragua and illicit sales of high-tech weapons to the Islamic Republic of Iran.  When President Ronald Reagan acknowledged that the two operations were connected it raised the stakes even higher, including rumblings for impeachment.

May 16, 2018 | Briefing Book
Washington, D.C., May 16, 2018 – Incoming National Rifle Association President Oliver North’s conduct during the infamous Iran-Contra affair featured a pattern of deliberate deception, a willingness to cooperate with known drug dealers, and – according to some senior colleagues – flawed judgment, according to declassified documents and sworn testimony posted today by the National Security Archive.

Nov 25, 2016 | Briefing Book
Washington, D.C., November 25, 2016 – Exactly thirty years ago, President Ronald Reagan announced to the nation – after weeks of denials – that members of his White House staff had engaged in a web of covert intrigue linking illicit U.S. support for a guerrilla war in Central America with an illegal and politically explosive arms-for-hostages bargain with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The revelation quickly led to a new phrase – “Iran-Contra” – which became synonymous with political hubris, government incompetence, and dishonesty in the public sphere.

Sep 5, 2014 | Briefing Book
"At last, the Reagan administration's Iran-Contra affair finally has a comprehensive history worthy of the scandal ... Malcolm Byrne has told the complex story in brilliant fashion." — Seymour Hersh Washington, DC, September 5, 2014 – A new book on the Iran-Contra affair shows that President Ronald Reagan stood at the epicenter of the scandal both in terms of his willingness to break the law in order to free American hostages in Lebanon and his failure to take account of the costs and consequences of his decisions, including the illicit conduct of numerous aides.

Mar 26, 2014 | Briefing Book
Washington, DC, March 26, 2014 – The passing away of Iran-Contra Independent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh on March 19, at age 102, is an appropriate occasion to recall some of the extraordinary outcomes of his investigation into the most significant political scandal of the 1980s. The Iran-Contra affair stirred up profound political passions. Walsh found himself at the center of seemingly perpetual controversy from the time of his appointment in late 1986 until his last major case against a former cabinet official — Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger — jolted to a halt in December 1992.

Nov 25, 2011 | Briefing Book
Washington D.C., November 25, 2011 – President Ronald Reagan was briefed in advance about every weapons shipment in the Iran arms-for-hostages deals in 1985-86, and Vice President George H. W. Bush chaired a committee that recommended the mining of the harbors of Nicaragua in 1983, according to previously secret Independent Counsel assessments of "criminal liability" on the part of the two former leaders posted today by the National Security Archive.

Nov 24, 2006 | Briefing Book
Washington D.C., November 24, 2006 - On November 25, 1986, the biggest political and constitutional scandal since Watergate exploded in Washington when President Ronald Reagan told a packed White House news conference that funds derived from covert arms deals with the Islamic Republic of Iran had been diverted to buy weapons for the U.S.-backed Contra rebels in Nicaragua. In the weeks leading up to this shocking admission, news reports had exposed the U.S.

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