On this day: October 5th

Iran-Contra scandal goes public — 1986

Believing any further encroachment of Communism in the western hemisphere to be a direct threat to the United States, from the beginning of his time as president, Ronald Reagan supported the Contras, a paramilitary group who opposed the communist Sandinista government in Nicaragua. However, Congress expressly forbade supporting their cause once it became clear the Contras were corrupt and violent.

Believing to have found a workaround that would also help secure the release of American hostages held in Iran, the Reagan administration devised a plan to sell weapons to the Iranian regime, and use part of that money to funnel to the Contras in their war in Nicaragua. With Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North helping to grease the skids with all parties involved, the CIA soon had supplies flowing to the Contras in direct violation of Congress’ wishes.