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Irancontra affair dogged reagan { June 6 2004 }

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Iran-Contra affair dogged Reagan
June 6, 2004

Undated-AP -- A secret arms sale to Iran developed into the biggest scandal of Ronald Reagan's presidency -- and it continued to unfold, even after he left office.

It all stemmed from two separate foreign policy issues facing the Reagan White House: the fight by anti-communist rebels against the Marxist government of Nicaragua, and the effort to free Americans who were being held hostage by extremists in Lebanon.

It turned out Reagan had authorized an arms sale to Iran -- while hoping to get Iran's help in getting the release of the Americans held in Lebanon.

And some of the money paid by Iran was then used to help the Contras, the rebels in Nicaragua -- at a time when Congress had banned direct U-S aid to them.

Reagan always insisted that he didn't know that the money went to the Contras.

But during the trial of his former national security aide, Oliver North, the evidence showed that Reagan was involved in efforts to get other countries to help the rebels.

Reagan initially denied that the Iran-Contra affair included an arms-for-hostages deal with Iran. But later, in a speech broadcast to the nation, he conceded that it had become just that.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press.

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