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A quick review of

The story begins in Nicaragua. In 1979, the "Sandinistas" -- a left-wing revolutionary army -- defeated the U.S.-trained army of dictator Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua. Less than two years later, according to the WASHINGTON POST (March 10, 1982), on November 16, 1981, CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] Director William Casey proposed to President Reagan that he approve $19 million for the CIA to organize a counter-revolutionary force to overthrow the leftist Sandinista government. The POST reported that President Reagan accepted Casey's proposal and authorized the CIA to finance and train a paramilitary commando force to provoke a counter-revolution in Nicaragua. Throughout 1982 the CIA rallied anti-Sandinista military forces, creating bases of operation in Honduras, on Nicaragua's border.

The northern FDN (Nicaraguan Democratic Force or La Fuerza Democratica de Nicaragua) Contras, based in Honduras, were comprised primarily of former Samoza National Guards, reknown for their brutality and corruption. The southern ARDE Contra front, had bases of operations in Southern Nicaragua and Northern Costa Rica, was headed by Eden Pastora, a former Sandinista commander known as Commandante Zero. Pastora's ARDE front received a great deal of support through an American's ranch in neighboring Costa Rica. 

This became known as Ronald Reagan's "secret war," but it wasn't much of a secret. After an embarrassing episode where the CIA illegally mined one of Nicaragua's harbors, sinking a Russian freighter and sparking an international uproar, the U.S. Congress acted to restrict the Reagan Whitehouse from pursuit of the insurgent war against the Nicaraguan government. 

On December 8, 1982, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the "Boland Amendment" to the 1983 military appropriations bill stating that none of the appropriated defense funds could be used to "train, arm, or support persons not members of the regular army for the purpose of overthrowing the government of Nicaragua." This amendment made it illegal for the CIA to continue funding its anti-Sandinista army, which by then was calling itself the FDN (Nicaraguan Democratic Forces), but was better known as the Contras. 

After passage of the Boland amendment, the Reagan White House defied the will and intent of Congres by launching an all-out campaign to fund the Contras through third parties and illicit channels. This involved setting up a huge operation that involved illegal missile sales to Iran (through Israel) and the use of illegal money laundries around the world (including the failed bank BCCI). Most of the White House Iran-Contra activities were orchestrated by Lt. Col. Oliver North.

Ultimately the entire scope of the operation was revealed in the immense Iran-Contra scandal. The media largely overlooked the Contra drugs connection at the time, and focused in the far-less shocking gun-running and capital-raising transactions of the Reagan/Bush Whitehouse. At the center of the imbroglio was Oliver North's "Enterprise" - an international web of deceipt involving illegal missile sales to Iran, NYC mobster money laundries, numbered Swiss bank accounts and involvement in the ultimate fall of BCCI.