Corruption and accountability

The assigned readings this week left us with many options, but the Iran Contra scandal seemed the obvious choice to me personally. For those of you who do not know already the Iran contra affair, was the culmination of a plot, in the 1980’s, to support CIA backed rebels in Nicaragua by using funds from the sale of arms to Iran. This attempt to do an end run around congress which at that time had ended the funding for the Contras, was blatantly illegal, and when it came to light came very close to ending the political career of not only president Reagan, but many of his staff as well. What seems like a simple scandal on the surface turns into a convoluted morass of middlemen and backroom deals, when you start to browse through the documents.

So whats the big deal ? No one remembers the event now, in fact if you ask most UT students, you will not find many that are familiar with the incident at all. After all american has a track record of allowing things like this to happen with few if any repercussions for the participants. While the author of the article has his focus firmly set on the Reagan and Bush administrations, we can simply walk backwards through similar incidents. Bill Clinton has a plethora of them, sex scandals aside the Clinton white house was caught funneling money from the Chinese government into his campaign coffers, possibly in exchange for technology considerations. George H Bush was involved in the Iran Contra scandal. In fact if you go back you will be hard pressed to find a president who did not have a major issue and walked away from it unscathed. Nixon being the obvious exception. Most Americans seemed resigned to the fact that our elected officials will get away with pretty much anything.

Each time an event like this occurs, the bar is lowered a little further, and our laws seem to matter a little less. Political corruption is nothing new, nor is a presidential overreach. Whether it is a group of cold warriors sitting in a back room, working out questionable ways to slow communism, White house staff members routing questionable funds into campaign war chests, or men in power illigaly using that power to keep tabs on thier “enemies”, elected officals should be held accountable to the system they serve, and if they are not, then we must rely on history to tell us about thier mistakes.


3 thoughts on “Corruption and accountability

  1. Given the implications of the Iran-Contra documents were you met with any rhetoric that needed verification or defining? What were the available documents and what did they contain that provoked implication? What were in the documents that suggest that they were never meant for public view?

  2. With government documents like these, it all comes out as very matter of fact. For examplein the third document in the series, a CIA memorandum from Robert Gates to William Casey, its obvious they never felt this would be read by the public at large, openly talking about a “comprehensive campaign openly aimed at bringing down the regime.” This is just a frank and open discussion of the option of war versus what they were already doing. Also Oliver North’s attempt to draft multiple memos to cloud the issue, as well as the destruction of the presidential finding that John Poindexter destroyed.

    The implications are not hidden at all, these people were well aware that what they did crossed several lines. There are several quotes from then vise president George H.W. Bush that argue for the justification of covert support for the Contra’s regardless of congressional objections. The ideal that they felt that they were doing the wrong thing for theright reasons weaves its way through many of the documents particularly the National Security Planning Group, from the 25th of June. This is not an exqcuse for their behavior, but a commentary on documents that were never intended to be reading for the general public.

  3. I completely agree with everything you said in your blog post. With that being said, primary documents like these from the government that were never intended to be public play a massive role in history. SInce they were never intended to be public, I think it might be safe to say that the people who constructed the documents probably did not hold much back. They were not concerned about what someone might think if they read them. Therefore, one can get the gritty details about the situation and those who were behind it.
    I read the documents about the debate about whether to lift the travel bans to Cuba or not and although they did not reveal anything that was extremely secret or embarrassing, they tell us about the thinking process of government officials. To put these documents more into context, it would be valuable to read newspaper articles of the leftists from the time that were opposed to the travel ban. It would also be helpful to read the extent of the punishments of those that were indicted.

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