On October 5th, Sandinista soldiers shot down a U.S. cargo plane. Lone survivor Eugene Hasenfus told his captors of CIA actions in Nicaragua. On November 3rd, the Lebanese newspaper Ash-Shiraa reported the U.S.-Iranian deals, quickly exposing the scandal worldwide.
Photo from Norman Stockwell, "Sandinista soldiers capture Eugene Hasenfus after his cargo plane was shot down while delivering supplies to the Contras in October 1986."
Each governmental branches held an investigation. North’s diversion memo was discovered by Attorney General Edwin Meese. Interviews and evidence confirmed the roles of executive officials in the scandal. Nonetheless, those involved still destroyed and altered evidence and made false and misleading statements to Congress. Significant laws were broken.
North shredding the Constitution, cartoon by Artley.
Despite this evidence, only a few participants were punished. North, McFarlane, Poindexter, and some CIA and private operatives received convictions. North and Poindexter’s cases were overturned on appeal.
“On December 24, 1992, President George H.W. Bush granted pardons to six defendants in the Iran-Contra Affairs. The defendants were Elliott Abrams, a former assistant secretary of state for Central America; former National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane; former CIA officials Duane Clarridge, Alan Fiers, and Clair George; and former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.”
- Excerpt from brown.edu, "The 1992 Pardons."
President Reagan was never charged.
“If the President did not know what his national security advisers were doing, he should have… the Constitution requires the President to ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed.’”
- John Woolley, The Iran-Contra Report
"Ladies and gentlemen, 200 years ago, the framers of our Constitution provided for more perfect union by establishing a strong national government built on a system of checks and balances. The Founding Fathers did not believe that effective government and checks and balances were inconsistent. On the contrary, it was their premise that no branch had such a monopoly on truth that it should be free to act with total independence. The unique genius of the American system was that by dividing power, it promoted sound policy based on reasoned and open discourse and mutual trust between the branches. These hearings this morning and for the days to follow will examine what happens when the trust which is the lubricant of our system is breached by high officials of our government."
- Senator Inouye's Opening Statement from Hearings on Iran-Contra Affairs (1987).
Photo from nlm.nih.gov, "Senator Inouye Portait"