Kerry Committee report

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The Kerry Committee report was the result of hearings of the United States Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations chaired by Senator John Kerry. The report found the United States Department of State had paid drug traffickers. Some of these payments were after the traffickers had been indicted by federal law enforcement agencies on drug charges or while traffickers were under active investigation by these same agencies. The Kerry investigation lasted two and a half years and heard scores of witnesses; its report was released on April 13, 1989.[1] The final report was 400 pages, with an additional 600-page appendix. The committee stated

It is clear that individuals who provided support for the Contras were involved in drug trafficking...and elements of the Contras themselves knowingly received financial and material assistance from drug traffickers.[2]


Press accounts concerning links between the Contras and drug traffickers, which began with a December 1985 story by the Associated Press, led to a review by the United States Department of State, U.S. Department of Justice and relevant U.S. intelligence agencies in 1986.[3]

In April 1986, the State Department informed Congress that it had "evidence of a limited number of incidents in which known drug traffickers tried to establish connections with Nicaraguan resistance groups."[3]

Hearings begin[edit]

In April 1986, John Kerry and Senator Christopher Dodd, a Democrat from Connecticut, proposed that hearings be conducted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding charges of Contra involvement in cocaine and marijuana trafficking. Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, the Republican chairman of the committee, agreed to conduct the hearings.

Kerry's findings[edit]

Meanwhile, Kerry's staff began their own investigations, and on October 14, 1986 issued a report which exposed illegal activities on the part of Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, who had set up a private network involving the National Security Council and the CIA to deliver military equipment to right-wing Nicaraguan rebels (Contras). In effect, North and certain members of the President's administration were accused by Kerry's report of illegally funding and supplying armed militants without the authorization of Congress.[4]

Kerry's staff investigation, based on a yearlong inquiry and interviews with 50 unnamed sources, was said to raise "serious questions about whether the United States has abided by the law in its handling of the contras over the past three years."[5]

The Kerry Committee report found that "the Contra drug links included...payments to drug traffickers by the U.S. State Department of funds authorized by the Congress for humanitarian assistance to the Contras, in some cases after the traffickers had been indicted by federal law enforcement agencies on drug charges, in others while traffickers were under active investigation by these same agencies."[3] The US State Department paid over $806,000 to known drug traffickers to carry humanitarian assistance to the Contras.[2]


On May 4, 1989, North was convicted of charges relating to the Iran/Contra controversy, including three felonies. On September 16, 1991, however, North's convictions were overturned on appeal because North's testimony before Congress under immunity may have affected testimony in the trial.[6]

Almost a decade later, the CIA inspector general would release a study confirming the conclusions of the Kerry Committee report.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Peter Kornbluh (January–February 1997). "Anatomy of a Story, Crack the Contras and the CIA: The Storm Over Dark Alliance". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved April 22, 2006.  Hosted on National Security Archives
  2. ^ a b Cockburn, Alexander; Jeffrey St Clair (October 1, 1999). Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press. Verso. ISBN 1-85984-258-5. 
  3. ^ a b c "Selections from the Senate Committee Report on Drugs, Law Enforcement and Foreign Policy chaired by Senator John F. Kerry". HTML. Retrieved April 21, 2006. 
  4. ^ Engelberg, Stephen (16 October 1986). "Report Links Ex-Senate Aide To Contras". The New York Times: 6. 
  5. ^ Unknown, Author (15 October 1986). "White House Official Linked To Arms Deliveries to Contras". The New York Times: 6. 
  6. ^ Johnston, David (24 December 1992). "Bush Pardons 6 In Iran Affair, Aborting A Weinberger Trial; Prosecutor Assails 'Cover-Up' Bush Diary at Issue 6-Year Inquiry Into Deal of Arms for Hostages All but Swept Away". New York Times. 
  7. ^ Corn, David (16 July 2001). "Defining John Kerry". The Nation. 

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