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The Iran-Contra Affair (also known as "Irangate") was a mid-1980s political scandal in the United States. President Ronald Reagan's administration sold arms to Iran, an avowed enemy. At the time, Americans were being held hostage by Islamic terrorists in Lebanon, and it was hoped that Iran would influence the terrorists to release the hostages; at the same time, Iran, which was in the midst of the Iran-Iraq War, could find few nations willing to supply it with weapons. The U.S. diverted proceeds from the sale to the Contras, anti-Communist guerrillas engaged in an insurgency against the democratically elected socialist Sandinista government of Nicaragua. Both the sale of weapons and the funding of the Contras violated stated administration policy as well as legislation passed by the Democratic-controlled Congress, which had blocked further Contra funding.

Faced with undeniable evidence of his involvement in the scandal, Reagan expressed regret regarding the situation on national television. In his speech, Reagan stated that he believed what he did was right, and understood how the American people might not think the same way. Nevertheless, Reagan survived the scandal, and would see his approval ratings return to previous levels.

AND NOW FOR SOME INDICTMENTS .... drum roll please


During the Iran-Contra Affair, Abrams was indicted for giving false testimony about his role in the illicit money-raising schemes by the special prosecutor handling the case, but he pleaded guilty to two lesser offenses of withholding information to Congress in order to avoid a trial and a possible jail term. Quoted in a May 30, 1994 article in Legal Times, Abrams spoke of his prosecutors as "filthy bastards", the proceedings against him "Kafkaesque", and members of the Senate Intelligence Committee "pious clowns" whose raison d'etre was to ask him "abysmally stupid" questions.[1] President George H. W. Bush pardoned Abrams along with a number of other Iran-Contra defendants shortly before leaving office in 1992.


This excerpt from Volume I of the Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Contra Matters details allegations against Duane Clarridge, a former CIA official who has authored a new memoir, "A Spy for All Seasons." Clarridge's case never came to trial, thanks to a pardon from President Bush,  but this report, issued August 4, 1993, summarizes the charges he would have faced.


After 1984, Fiers was perhaps second only to CIA Director William J. Casey in the extent of his contact with Lt. Col. Oliver L. North's efforts to keep the contras supplied, notwithstanding the limits of Boland Amendments upon contra aid.

On July 9, 1991, Fiers pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress. Fiers entered the plea as part of an agreement to cooperate with Independent Counsel's investigation. On January 31, 1992, Chief Judge Aubrey E. Robinson, Jr., sentenced Fiers to one hundred hours of community service to be performed within one year of his sentence. Fiers was pardoned by President Bush on December 24, 1992.


George was tried in the summer of 1992 on nine counts of false statements, perjury and obstruction in connection with congressional and Grand Jury investigations. This trial ended in a mistrial after the jury was unable to reach a verdict on any count. George was retried in the fall of 1992 on seven counts, resulting in convictions on two charges of false statements and perjury before Congress. Before George was sentenced, President Bush pardoned him on December 24, 1992.


Though he claims to have been opposed to the sale on principle, Weinberger participated in the transfer of United States TOW missiles to Iran during the Iran-Contra Affair. Weinberger was later indicted on several felony charges of lying to the Iran-Contra independent counsel during its investigation. Weinberger received a Presidential pardon from President George H.W. Bush on December 24, 1992, just days before his trial was scheduled to begin.   It was thought by some that the purpose of the pardon was to keep Weinberger's diary, which was said to have contained confirmation of President George H.W. Bush's knowledge of and involvement in the Iran-Contra Affair from being introduced as evidence at trial and therefore becoming a public record that could be used against him.


In 1988 McFarlane pleaded guilty to four counts of withholding information from Congress for his role in the Iran-Contra cover-up. He was sentenced to two years' probation and a $20,000 fine but was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush in the waning hours of his presidency on Christmas Eve 1992 along with the other key players in the scandal.


North, indicted on nine counts, was initially convicted of three minor counts, although the conviction was later vacated upon appeal on the grounds that North's Fifth Amendment rights may have been violated. The violation was said to be the indirect use of his testimony to Congress which had been given under a grant of immunity.....  The Independent Counsel chose not to re-try North or Poindexter


Poindexter was convicted on multiple felony counts .on April 7, 1990 for conspiracy, obstruction of justice, lying to Congress, defrauding the government, and the alteration and destruction of evidence pertaining to the Iran-Contra Affair. The convictions were reversed in 1991 on the grounds that the prosecution's evidence may have been tainted by exposure to Poindexter's testimony before the joint House-Senate committee investigating the matter, in which Poindexter's testimony was compelled by a grant of 'use immunity'. The prosecution was not able to re-try the case.

Explaining those pardons, Bush said the "common denominator of their motivation -- whether their actions were right or wrong -- was patriotism." They did not profit or seek to profit from their conduct, Bush said, adding that all five "have already paid a price -- in depleted savings, lost careers, anguished families -- grossly disproportionate to any misdeeds or errors of judgment they may have committed."


Bush said the prosecutions of the persons he was pardoning on Christmas Eve represent "what I believe is a profoundly troubling development in the political and legal climate of our country: the criminalization of policy differences."

The differences should be addressed in "the political arena, without the Damocles sword of criminality hanging over the heads of some of the combatants," he said. "The proper target is the president, not his subordinates; the proper forum is the voting booth, not the courtroom."

Originally posted to Southern Mouth on Sat Oct 29, 2005 at 09:38 PM PDT.

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