WASHINGTON – New documents regarding the Iran–Contra affair revealed a possible Israeli link to the political scandal that rocked Washington in 1986.
The report was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request from the National Security Archive, on the 25th anniversary of the affair, which saw accusations that the Reagan Administration secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran – the subject of an arms embargo under the US Arms Export Control Act (AECA).
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The report notes that several top officials in the Reagan Administration believed that the administration's failure to alert Congress that some of its covert operations were in violation of the AECA were illegal and prosecutable.
Minutes from a meeting held in December 1985 recorded then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger as telling President Ronald Reagan that "washing the transaction through Israel wouldn't make it legal."
President Ronald Reagan (Archives: AP)
Still, associate independent counsel in the case, Christian Mixter, concluded two decades ago that neither Reagan nor his vice president, George H.W. Bush, were criminally liable in the case.
In his final report, dated 1991, Mixter determined that even though Reagan was briefed in advance about every weapons shipment sold to Iran in the arms-for-hostages deals in 1985-86, it would be difficult to prosecute him for violating the Arms Export Control Act, which mandates congressional notification of arms transfers through a third country – Israel in this case.
Part of the deal also entailed CIA usage of funds to finance the rebels in Nicaragua – a move also deemed illegal by the Congress.
Mixter's report details an outline of then-Vice President Bush's involvement in the Iran-Contra operations, including what he called Bush's "meeting with a high Israeli official on the sales of arms to Iran in July 1986."
Notations made by Secretary Weinberger in December 1985, state that "The disastrous November HAWK shipment prompted US officials to take direct control of the arms deals with Iran. Until then, Israel had been responsible for making the deliveries, for which the US agreed to replenish their stocks of American weapons."
Mixter determined no charges could be filed against Reagan because then-Attorney General Meese had informed him that the 1947 National Security Act could be invoked to supersede the AECA.
Providing the public with half-truths and partial lies "is not a crime," Mixter ruled.
AP contributed to this report
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