iran-contra scandal


To investigate the events of the Iran-Contra Scandal and determine how it affected the trust of the people of America, complete the activity below.

First, read the description in the text on pages 851-853, then access the links below to read and become more familiar with the background of the Iran-Contra Scandal.  Answer the questions that follow to guide you through the reading and focus on the key concepts.

  1. Iran-Contra Affair - PBS

  2. Iran-Contra Affair - World Book On-line (pdf)

1.  Who were the Contras?

2.  Explain what the Boland Amendment restricted.

3.  How did President Reagan respond to the Boland Amendment?

4.  Why would the US sell weapons to Iran?

5.  What was President Reagan’s reasoning for going along with the selling of weapons?

6.  How did the selling of arms cause distrust of the Reagan Administration by the American public?

7.  By the time the arms sales were discovered how many missiles had been sold to Iran?

8.  How did Reagan respond when the Lebanese newspaper “Al-Shiraa” exposed the arms deal?

9.  What was the public’s perception of the Reagan administration after this was exposed?

10. Where was the money going that the US government received for selling arms to Iran?

11.  What roles did Oliver North and Admiral John Poindexter play in the Iran-Contra scandal?

12.  What happened to North and Poindexter?

13.  What was the role of the Tower Commission?

14.  What evidence did they find about Reagan’s involvement in the scandal?

15.  Independent counsel Lawrence Welsh conducted an investigation of the Reagan administration.  How long did the investigation last?  What were the consequences for the people involved?

16.  Why were these “covert actions” carried out both in Iran and Nicaragua?

After viewing the speech of Ronald Reagan (link below) and understanding the Iran-Contra scandal answer the following questions.

  1. President Ronald Reagan - Address on Iran Contra (YouTube)

1.  What feelings do you think Americans had toward the Reagan Administration?

2.  How do you think the American public felt about the role of the President and the power that was abused?  (Include thoughts of Richard Nixon from Watergate)

3.  Do you think Reagan taking responsibility and apologizing to the public had an impact on the public’s perception of the Reagan administration?  Was this a good technique to regain trust? (Explain)


Photo Credits: Graph of presidential approval rating for Ronald Reagan’s two terms of office (; President Reagan in a press conference during Iran-Contra Affair (