Congressional committees investigating the Iran–Contra Affair
|Purpose||To investigate the Iran-Contra affair|
|Rep. Lee H. Hamilton (D-Ind)|
|Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI)|
|Sen. Warren B. Rudman (R-NH)|
|United States House of Representatives / United States Senate|
The Congressional Committees Investigating The Iran-Contra Affair were committees of the United States House of Representatives and of the United States Senate formed in January 1987 to investigate the Iran-Contra affair. The committees held joint hearings and issued a joint report. The hearings ran from 5 May 1987 to 6 August 1987, and the report was published in November, with a dissenting Minority Report signed by six Republican Congressmen and two Republican Senators.
The Committees were constituted in January 1987, and agreed a deadline for the investigation of 7 August, when Congress was due to adjourn, with several more months to prepare the final report. According to a participant in the meetings, the Senate committee decided early on not to pursue the President, not only because he was too old and lacked the mental ability to fully understand what happened, and had too little time left in office, but because the Senators "honestly thought that the country didn't need another Watergate. They were urgently hoping to avoid a crisis."
The Majority Report concluded that the "NSC staff turned to private parties and third countries to do the Government’s business. Funds denied by Congress were obtained by the Administration from third countries and private citizens. Activities normally conducted by the professional intelligence services—which are accountable to Congress—were turned over to [retired Gen. Richard Secord and [Albert] Hakim".
The Minority Report blamed conflict between executive and legislature over foreign policy: "Congressional Democrats tried to use vaguely worded and constantly changing laws to impose policies in Central America that went well beyond the law itself. For its own part, the Administration decided to work within the letter of the law covertly, instead of forcing a public and principled confrontation that would have been healthier in the long run." Rep. Henry Hyde, one of the signatories to the Minority Report, wrote that "All of us at some time confront conflicts between rights and duties, between choices that are evil and less evil, and one hardly exhausts moral imagination by labeling every untruth and every deception an outrage."
Richard Secord was later tried for false testimony to the Committees.
In 1989 the Senate Intelligence Committee investigated why documents appearing at the trial of Oliver North had not been submitted to the Committees. It concluded the non-submission was not intentional.
In 1991 Lawrence Walsh's investigation found papers had been withheld from the Congressional committees. This led to indictments for coverup-related offenses against Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, CIA clandestine services chief Clair George, and CIA European Division Chief Duane Clarridge. George was convicted in late 1992; the trials of Weinberger and Clarridge, due in early 1993, were halted after the outgoing President George H. W. Bush pardoned all those involved.
The Report was criticized by Peter Dale Scott, among other things for failing to accurately present the allegations and background of whistleblower Jack Terrell. Scott wrote that "where the committees' Report suppresses or misrepresents the truth (as happens too often), it is usually to prevent disclosure of other covert operations already authorized by Congress", citing as an example the suppression of The Enterprise's involvement in arms supply to the rebels in Angola.
- Seymour Hersh, The Iran-Contra Committees: Did They Protect Reagan?", New York Times, 29 April 1990.
- Brown University, "The Minority Report"
- Brown University, Hearings Timeline
- David G. Savage (1998-12-04). "Hyde View on Lying Is Back Haunting Him". Los Angeles Times.
- Brown University, The Majority Report
- "Bush Doubts Reagan White House Meant to Conceal Iran-Contra Papers", New York Times, 21 April 1989
- "Were Relevant Documents Withheld from the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran-Contra Affair?", Senate Intelligence Committee, June 1989
- Robert Parry, consortiumnews.com, "The CIA Protects the Iran-Contra Cover-up", 1997
- Peter Dale Scott, "Northwards without North: Bush, Counterterrorism, and the Continuation of Secret Power", Social Justice, Vol. 16, No. 2 (36), (Summer 1989), pp. 1-30. p22 / footnote 77
- Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating The Iran-Contra Affair, Washington, 1987
- Lee Hamilton Congressional Papers, 1965-1998
- Lee H. Hamilton, Christian Science Monitor, 3 December 1987, After Iran-contra: lessons for the US
- Video Recordings Relating to the Iran/Contra Senate Hearing, 1987 - 1987, National Archives
- Understanding the Iran-Contra Affairs: Documents, Brown University
- "Launching the private network" - a chapter from a draft of the report