Year
1987

Congress issues final report on Iran-Contra scandal

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?

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Mass suicide at Jonestown

On this day in 1978, Peoples Temple founder Jim Jones leads hundreds of his followers in a mass murder-suicide at their agricultural commune in a remote part of the South American nation of Guyana. Many of Jones’ followers willingly ingested a poison-laced punch while others were ...read more

Haig ends Battle of Somme

Douglas Haig, commander of the British Expeditionary Force in World War I, calls off the Battle of the Somme in France after nearly five months of mass slaughter. The massive Allied offensive began at 7:30 a.m. on July 1, 1916, when 100,000 British soldiers poured out of their ...read more

Terry Waite released

Shiite Muslim kidnappers in Lebanon free Anglican Church envoy Terry Waite after more than four years of captivity. Waite, looking thinner and his hair grayer, was freed along with American educator Thomas M. Sutherland after intense negotiations by the United Nations. Waite, ...read more

Sandy Koufax retires

On November 18, 1966, Sandy Koufax, the ace pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, retires from baseball. He was just 30 years old, and he was retiring after a great season–he’d led the Dodgers to a National League pennant and won his third Cy Young award. But he had chronic ...read more

Chester Arthur dies in New York

On this day in 1886, former President Chester Alan Arthur succumbs to complications from a debilitating and fatal kidney ailment known as Bright’s Disease. In the words of former President Rutherford B. Hayes, Arthur’s term as president was most notable for “liquor, snobbery and ...read more

Commuters die in subway fire

A fire in a London subway station kills 30 commuters and injures scores of others on this day in 1987. It is the worst fire in the history of the city’s underground rail system. The King’s Cross station in London is one of the city’s busiest; it contains two terminals and is at ...read more

Lincoln travels to Gettysburg

On this day in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln boards a train for Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to deliver a short speech at the dedicationof a cemetery of soldiers killed during the battle there on July 1 to July 3, 1863. The address Lincoln gave in Gettysburg became one of the most ...read more