The Iran Contra Scandal
This is a timeline of various events in the scandal history I found on the
Internet. I think some of the dates may be off, and I know there are fairly
big holes in it (like when North testifies and gets convicted or when the
first reports of the scandal are reported). I hope to fill in the gaps soon.
- Oct. -According to unproven allegations, the Reagan-Bush campaign makes
secret pact with Iran to delay release of the Embassy hostages until after
the November election, in return for future covert arms sales. This theory is
known as the 'October surprise.'
- Jan 20 -- Hostages held in the American Embassy in Iran released. Reagan takes oath of office.
- July -- An Israeli official suggests a deal with Iran to then-national
security adviser Robert McFarlane, saying the transfer of arms could lead to
release of Americans being held hostage in Lebanon. McFarlane brings the
message to President Reagan.
- Aug. 30 -- The first planeload of U.S.-made weapons is sent from Israel to
Tehran. Two weeks later the first American Hostage is released.
- Dec. 5 -- Reagan secretly signs a presidential 'finding,' or authorization,
describing the operation with Iran as an arms-for-hostages deal.
- Jan. 17 -- Reagan signs a finding authorizing CIA participation in the sales
and ordering the process kept secret from Congress.
- April -- Then-White House aide Oliver North writes a memo outlining plans to
use $12 million in profits from Iran arms sales for Contra aid.
- Nov. 5 -- Bush records in his diary "On the news at this time is the question
of the hostages ... I'm one of the few people that know fully the deatails
... it is not a subject we can talk about ...."
- Nov 13 -- Bush's diary: "I remember Watergate. I remember the way things
oozed out. It is important to be level, to be honest, to be direct. We are
not saying anything."
- Nov. 25 -- Attorney General Edwin Meese III discloses to the public that $10
million to $30 million in arms-sale profits were diverted to the Contras.
Bush's diary: "The administration in disarray -- foreign policy in disarray
-- cover-up -- who knew what when?..."
- Jan 1 -- Bush's diary "These so-called findings on Iran -- I'll be honest --
I don't remember any of them, and I don't believe that they were even signed
by the president, frankly. But sometimes there are meetings over in the White
House with Shultz, NSC guy [McFarlane? -ed], Casey and Weinberger, and they
make some decisions that the president signs off on. ... And the facts are
that the Vice President is not in the decision making loop."
- May 11 -- McFarlane testifies to Congress that Reagan instructed his staff in
1984 to find ways around the congressional ban on U.S. military aid to the
- Jan -- Just before Reagan leaves office, the White House computer is purged
of data, which is backed-up to tape. About two-dozen tapes mysteriously
disappear once the aides have finished.
- July 25 -- U.S. District Judge Harold Greene dismisses theft and wire fraud
charges against Poindexter. Poindexter remains charged with conspiracy, two
counts of obstructing Congress and two counts of making false statements.
- Feb. 5 -- Greene orders Reagan to give a unusual videotaped testimony and
immediately turn over 33 excerpts from his diaries. The former president
invokes constituionally questionable doctrine of executive privilege, made
famous by Richard Milhous Nixon. On the videotape he says he never had "any
inkling" that his aides were arming the Contras.
- April 7 -- Poindexter is convicted of all five charges.
- Feb. 28 -- Poindexter appeals all five convictions.
- June 16 -- Former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger is indicted on five
felony counts of obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements.
- Aug. 26 -- Because of a hung jury, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth
declares a mistrial in the case of CIA officer Clair George, accused of
concealing from Congress his knowledge of the Iran-Contra affair.
- Nov. 26 -- Duane Clarridge, ex-head of the CIA's Western European Division,
is indicted for allegedly lying about his knowledge of Iran-Contra.
- Dec. 9 -- George is convicted of lying to Congress about the affair in 1986.
He becomes the highest-ranking CIA spook yet convicted of felonies committed
in the name of duty.
- Dec. 24 -- President Bush grants pardons to Weinberger, former assistant
secretary of State Elliott Abrams, Clarridge, Fiers, George and McFarlane.