After nearly a year of hearings into the Iran-Contra scandal, the joint Congressional investigating committee issues its final report. It concluded that the scandal, involving a complicated plan whereby some of the funds from secret weapons sales to Iran were used to finance the Contra war against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, was one in which the administration of Ronald Reagan exhibited “secrecy, deception, and disdain for the law.”
Naming several members of the Reagan administration as having been directly involved in the scheme (including National Security Advisor John Poindexter and deceased CIA Director William Casey), the report stated that Reagan must bear “ultimate responsibility.” A number of government officials were charged and convicted of various crimes associated with the scandal.A minority opinion by some of the Republican members of the committee contained in the report argued that the hearings had been politically motivated. They also suggested that while Reagan administration officials might have used poor judgment, the ultimate end—continuing the fight against the leftist regime in Nicaragua—was a worthy goal.
The differences in opinion, while partially reflective of partisan biases, were also evidence of a question that had plagued U.S. policy makers since the early days of the Cold War: in the battle against communism, were the ends more important than the means?