"The administration in disarray--foreign policy in disarray--cover-up--Who knew what when?" George Bush noted in his personal diary on November 25, 1986, the day that Iran-Contra exploded in the United States and became a major part of our national psyche. Several years later, the controversy surrounding the cover-up, and what George Bush knew and when, sustains the Iran-Contra affair as a contemporary political issue. This reader provides the most important tools for understanding this complex episodeÐthe actual top-secret documents generated by the foreign policy decisions and covert operations in Central America and Iran, the arms-for-hostage swaps, the Contra war, the quid pro quos, the orchestrated official deception, and the Bush pardons that make up one of the most important political scandals since Watergate.
The National Security Archive, a private public interest agency founded in 1985 to break through the codes of government secrecy, has assembled 100 documents concerning the Iran-Contra scandal, covering the period from Reagan's original presidential finding on December 1, 1981 to Bush's grant of executive clemency on December 24, 1992. With contexual introductions, a helpful chronology of key events, and a glossary of major participants, the volume sets forth the documents relevant to this major controversy in contemporary American politics. The editors have arranged the primary materials to allow the ``facts'' to speak for themselves so that readers may determine if these actions indeed constitute the undermining of the U.S. Constitution, as Theodore Draper has charged in A Very Thin Line ( LJ 6/1/91). Among the myriad books from this event, this volume alone provides the public record needed to reach a final verdict. A professionally done volume, it belongs in every public school and academic library.-- James Rhodes, Luther Coll., Decorah, Ia.