"The various Iran-Contra investigations soon uncovered a plethora of legal violations. The covert arms sales to Iran violated numerous statutes that restricted the transfer of arms to nations that support international terrorism, principally the Arms Export Control Act of 1976 (Pub. L. No. 90-629, 89 Stat. 1320 [22 U.S.C.A. §§ 2751–2796c (1989 Supp.)]). By failing to report the Iranian sales to Congress, the Reagan administration had ignored reporting provisions in the 1980 Intelligence Oversight Act (Pub. L. No. 96-450, tit. IV, 407(b) (1), 94 Stat. 1981 [50 U.S.C.A. § 413 (1982)]). That law required the president to notify Congress in a timely fashion of any "significant anticipated intelligence activity, and to make a formal written "finding" (declaration) that each covert operation was important to national security. Three findings were at issue in the Iran-Contra affair: (1) Not only had President Reagan failed to report the first arms sales, but he had also authorized them through Israeli intermediaries by "oral" findings that were not authorized by intelligence oversight statutes. (2) The central intelligence agency (CIA) justified a second shipment of arms to the Iranians through a "retroactive" finding issued by the CIA's general counsel; Poindexter admitted destroying this finding. (3) President Reagan admitted signing a third written finding, in January 1986, but later claimed he had never read it."
- Excerpt from encyclopedia.com, "Iran-Contra Affair."