Summary of the Iran-Contra Scandal

 Watergate Criminal Conspiracy

President Nixon
President Gerald Ford
Alexander Haig
Henry Kissinge

Bob Hadelman
John  Ehrlichman
John Mitchell
John Dean
E. Howard Hunt
G. Gordon Liddy
James McCord
Charles Colson
Pat Buchanan
Lynn Nofziger
Large Corporations paying
  Bribes to Nixon for favors
Watergate Burglars--Gemstone
Campaign to Re-Elect the  
  President Staff


Iran-Contra Criminal Conspiracy

President Reagan
Vice President Bush
Edward Meese
Michael Deaver
Caspar Weinberger
George Schultz
William Casey
Robert McFarland
John Poindexter
Oliver North
Fawn Hall
The Enterprise
Third Countries funding the
  Secret War
Private Donors funding the
  Secret War
Manuel Noriega
Columbian Drug Cartels
The Contra Guerrillas
The Iranian Government
The Islamic Terrorists holding
  American Hostages


    Larger Lessons of Watergate that allowed
    President Reagan and his men to escape        
    criminal prosecutions for Iran-Contra

   1. Destroy the Evidence.  Reagan's team destroyed white house
        e-mail and shredded documents linking them to criminal

   2.  Come up with a common "cover story" that explains away
        their lack of knowledge and involvement in the larger
        criminal conspiracy:  "The President didn't know."

   3.  Deny that the crimes they didn't commit were crimes.
        Argue that they weren't involved in a criminal
        conspiracy, but admit that they committed some of
        these crimes--which weren't in fact crimes but political

   4.  High-ranking Reagan Administration officials claim that
         they had no knowledge of what "those guys" were doing.
        Claim to be "Out of the decision-making loop."

       Iran-Contra Criminal Conspiracy

      1.  Illegally selling military arms to the terrorist-state
           Iran, which was supporting Islamic militants who
            captured and held Americans hostage in Lebanon,
            from 1981 to 1986.

     2.    Selling Hawk missiles and military spare parts to
            Iran in exchange for the release of American hostages
            by Iranian-supported Islamic militants.

      3.     Lying to Congress and the American people about
             "trading arms for hostages" with Iran.

      4.     Selling missiles and military equipment through a
             private company to Iran and using the profits from
             these missiles sales to illegally fund a guerrilla
             war in Central America.

        5.    Illegally using the CIA and Defense Department to
              support the Nicaraguan Contras, which Congress
              had banned from giving such support.

        6.    Lying to Congress and the American people about
               illegally providing military aid and support to
               the Nicaraguan Contras.

        7.    Working with Columbian Drug cartels to
               illegally ship drugs into the United States and
               using the profits to help fund the Contras'
               military operations in Nicaragua.

        8.     A cover-up of the illegal activities of President
                Reagan and his administration led by Reagan
                and his National Security Council Staff.

        9.      Destroying government documents and e-mail  
                that would implicate Reagan and his top

        10.    Lying to Congress and the American People about
                President Reagan and his advisers' role in the
                larger Iran-Contra criminal conspiracy.

        11.    Reagan and his advisers committed perjury
                about their knowledge of and involvement in
                the larger criminal conspiracy during the
                Iran-Contra criminal trials.

        12.    President Bush's December 1992 pardon of
                Caspar Weinberger and other top Reagan
                advisers in order to avoid the possible
                criminal prosecution of Bush and Reagan
                for their Iran-Contra crimes.

   The Impact of Watergate on the
     Iran-Contra Scandal

        1.  Reagan's top advisers lied about President
            Reagan's direct involvement in the Iran-Contra
            criminal conspiracy, fearing that Reagan, like
            Nixon, would be impeached and removed from

        2.  The legal staff of the Congressional Iran-Contra
            Special Investigating Committee admitted that
            the Committee had enough evidence to impeach
            President Reagan for his involvement in Iran-Contra
            but decided not to in order to save the nation from
            another failed Presidency so soon after Watergate.

        3.  Many Americans concluded that Reagan was
            responsible for the larger Iran-Contra criminal
            conspiracy, but, unlike Nixon, managed to
            undermine the Congressional and Criminal
            Investigation of these crimes

   The link between Clinton-Lewinsky
     scandals and the Iran-Contra scandal.

          1.    Republicans couldn't forgive the Democrats for
                trying to undermine the Reagan Presidency
                through the Iran-Contra Investigations.

        2.      Republicans believed that the Iran-Contra
                Special Prosecutor's indictment of Caspar
                Weinberger four days before the 1992
                Presidential elections caused President Bush
                to lose the election to Clinton.

        3.       From the first days of Clinton's Presidency, top
                 Republican leaders and operatives tried to
                 undermine President Clinton as payback for
                 what the Democrats did to the Reagan Presidency.

        4.      One of Clinton's first acts as President was to
                ask the FBI to turn over its files on top Republican
                leaders.  Republicans worried that like Nixon,
                Clinton was trying to use the power of the
                government to screw his Republican enemies.

        5.      Unable to impeach Clinton for Campaign finance
                abuses because the Republicans were equally
                guilty, Congressional Republicans impeached
                Clinton for lying about his affair with Monica   

        6.       Just as Democrats referred to the Iran-Contra
                 scandal as "Iran-Contragate,"  Republicans
                 referred to the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal as

*Copyright 2001 by Chris H.  Lewis, Ph.D.
   Sewall Academic Program; University of Colorado at Boulder
   Created: 4 Dec. 2001:  Last Modified: 5 Dec. 2001