Ronald Reagan picture

Statement on the Iran Arms and Contra Aid Controversy

December 16, 1986

There is an urgent need for full disclosure of all facts surrounding the Iranian controversy. I want to get this information out. We must get on with the business at hand and put this issue behind us. It is my desire to have the full story about Iran come out now—the alleged transfer of funds, the Swiss bank accounts, who was involved-everything. The law provides a process for Congress to obtain this information from Vice Adm. John M. Poindexter, Lt. Col. Oliver North, and any other witnesses without depriving them of their constitutional rights.

Congress passed legislation 16 years ago authorizing the Senate and the House of Representatives or any committee or subcommittee to grant special limited immunity to any witness, so that the witness must give testimony that is pertinent to a congressional inquiry. This limited immunity also protects the witness by providing that such testimony cannot be used against him in any criminal proceedings. At the same time, the law still permits prosecution based on all evidence other than the testimony given before Congress.

Such "use immunity" is not amnesty or clemency. This legal process obtains the facts before Congress, but does not prevent those responsible for any wrongdoing from being brought to justice. Thus it does not interfere with the duties and responsibilities of the independent counsel. Therefore, I am asking the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to immediately seek "use immunity" for Admiral Poindexter and Lieutenant Colonel North in order that the whole truth—all of the facts on Iran—may be told. This is essential because of the controversy surrounding the Iranian matter. There is an absolute need to get on with the business of government.

Ronald Reagan, Statement on the Iran Arms and Contra Aid Controversy Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under


Simple Search of Our Archives