“Oliver North, a midlevel NSC staffer, set up a network of former military and intelligence officers, arms dealers, and private businessmen. White house officials repeatedly lied to Congress and the public when they denied that the administration was still involved in supporting the Contras.”
Although congress specifically denied any further funding to the Nicaraguan Contras, the Reagan administration completely defied this order. North worked to set up a secretive system where Americans would sell weapons to Iran in order to secure the release of American hostages in Lebanon. The money gained from the sale of these weapons was then funneled to the Nicaraguan Contras. The goal was to help the Contras overthrow the Sandista government. This shocked many Americans who never would have guessed their government was negotiating with terrorists, secretly supplying the world with weapons, overthrowing democratically elected governments, and dealing in drug money. The fact that the military-industrial complex was able to do this despite congress’ explicit ban on these actions speaks to the power the military was gaining behind the scenes in the American political realm. This would create problems that we are still experiencing today, such as those illuminated in the documentary Dirty Wars.