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William S. Cohen Papers | Senate Iran-Contra Committee

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MS Iran-contra Committee 1984-1992 13 boxes

The Iran-contra affair refers to certain related events that began in early 1985 when Robert McFarlane, head of the National Security Council (NSC), became involved in the sale of arms to Iran. He believed that such a sale would secure the release of Americans who were being held captive in Lebanon by Iranian terrorist groups. A portion of the money that Iran paid for the arms was diverted by the NSC to the Contras, rebels fighting to overthrow Nicaragua's Sandinista government. The sale of weapons to Iran directly contradicted the U.S. government's forcefully stated policy to refuse to bargain with terrorists or sell arms to Iran, while the diversion of funds to Nicaragua, handled by NSC staff member Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, directly violated the Boland Amendment, a law passed in 1984 that banned U.S. military aid to the Contras. These illegal activities came to light in November 1986 and immediately caused a public uproar.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (of which Cohen was the ranking member) was one of several standing committees conducting preliminary investigations and issuing reports on these events. In January 1987, Congress established two new Select Committees charged with undertaking a comprehensive investigation of the Iran-contra affair. These were the Senate Select Committee on Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Nicaraguan Opposition, and the House Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran. Cohen was one of eleven Senators appointed to the Senate Select Committee. The Senate and House Select Committees conducted a joint investigation of the Iran-Contra Affair and held joint public hearings, which extended from May 5 to August 3, 1987. During this time, the Committees heard testimony from 32 witnesses. Cohen was involved with questioning a number of these witnesses.

The records in this subseries consist of Cohen's files related to this investigation. The first five boxes are arranged according to the last names of the witnesses in these hearings, as well as others involved in the investigation. The witness files consist of short biographies, summaries of interviews, memos, statements given to the press, excerpts from previous testimonies given before other committees, and possible questions to be used in the hearings (many of which were suggested by L. Britt Snider, Cohen's staff liaison to the Iran-contra committee.) The published transcripts of these joint hearings and the final report of the committees are also included. Cohen, together with Senator George Mitchell, wrote a book about his experience on this committee: Men of Zeal (Viking Penguin Inc., 1988). Some of Cohen's book material and committee papers are intermingled both in this subseries, and in his book material in the Private Papers series.

Folder Titles

Witness Files

Abrams, Elliott, briefing book material, May 28, 1987 (2 folders)
Abrams, Elliott, memos and notes, Jan. 1987
Abrams, Elliott, news clippings (2 folders)
Calero, Adolfo (2 folders)
Castillo, Tomas (Fernandez Joseph)
Claridge, Dewey R., testimony, Aug. 4 1987 (2 folders)
Cohen, questions of key witnesses, A-K
Cohen, questions of key witnesses, L-Z
Cohen, William, opening statement at Iran-contra hearing, May 5, 1987
Cohen, William, notes, August 1987
Cohen, William, notes, undated
Cooper, Charles J., bio and interview, June 25, 1987
Coors, Joseph; Garwood, Ellen St. John; O'Boyle William B. briefing books
Department of Defense Officials, briefing books, June 23, 1987 (Koch, Gaffney, Weinberger) (2 folders)
Department of Defense Status Report, July 1987
Department of Defense exhibits
Department of Defense witnesses, Koch, Noel & Gaffney, Henry
Dutton, Robert, briefing book, May 27, 1987
Dutton, R., Rodriguez, F., Tambs, L., briefing book, 1987
Dutton, Robert, memos
Dutton, Robert, interview, April, 1987
Fiers, Alan, CIA Central American Task Force Chief Testimony and exhibits, August 4-5, 1987 (3 folders)
Fiers, Alan
Gadd, Richard B., deposition, May 1, 1987
Gadd, Richard, memos
George, Clair, testimony and exhibits, Aug. 5-6, 1987 (2 folders)
Hakim, Albert
Hakim, Albert, questioning
Hakim, Albert, briefing book, June 3, 1987
Hakim, Albert, memos
Hall, Fawn, briefing book
Hall, Fawn?, exhibits, Bretton Sciaroni?
Hamilton, Lee, closing statement, June 9, 1987
Inouye, Hamilton, and Rudman, final statements, August 3, 1987
Koch / Gaffney questions, June 23, 1987, with Cohen's notes
McFarlane, Robert C., briefing book
McFarlane, Robert C., memos, notes, drafts
Meese, General Edwin, briefing book, July 24, 1987 (2 folders)
Meese, Edwin (5 folders)
Meese, Edwin, news clippings
North, Oliver
North, Oliver, Cohen's memos, notes, drafts, etc.
North, Oliver, briefing book, July 1, 1987 (2 folders)
North, Oliver, briefing book, July 6, 1987 (2 folders)
North, Oliver, news clippings
Owen, Robert
Poindexter, John, testimony, July 20, 1987
Poindexter, John, briefing book and notes (2 folders)
11 Poindexter, news clippings
12-13 Radzimski, James, briefing book, July 13, 1987 (2 folders)
Regan, Donald
Regan, Donald, briefing book and testimony
Regan, Donald, news articles, 1986-1989
Robinette, Glen, news clippings and deposition
Robinette, Glann A., biography, interview, transcript, June, 1987
Robinette, Glenn A., deposition, June 17, 1987
Sciaroni, Bretton, memos, 1987
Sciaroni, Bretton, June 1, 1987, briefing book
Secord, Richard Vernon, briefing book, May 5, 1987
Secord, Richard Vernon, Cohen's notes
Secord, Richard Vernon, testimony, annotated published hearing, May 5-8 (2 folders)
Secord, Richard Vernon, testimony topics briefing book, no date
Shultz, George P., briefing book, July 22, 1987 (2 folders)
Shultz, George P., news clippings
Shultz, George P., testimony, Cohen's notes, July, 1987
Sigur, Gaston, annotated questions for hearing
Sigur, Gaston, and Owen, Robert, briefing books, May, 1987
Singlaub, John K., briefing book
Sporkin, Judge Stanley, briefing book, June 24, 1987
Sporkin, Judge Stanley, memos, notes, drafts
Tambs, Lewis A., Cohen's notes and memos
Tambs, Lewis A., memos and exhibits
Walsh, Lawrence E., memo
Weinberger, Caspar
Weinberger, Caspar, briefing book, July, 1987

General files

Articles and news clippings, 1987-1992
Background material and notes, 1985
Casey, William, Washington Post article, September, 1987
Cover up chapter, draft, September 11, 1987
Deception, 1985 (Genachowski report)
General memos, notes, drafts, April 7, 1986-November 17, 1987
Insight article, August 10, 1987
Iran-Contra Affair notes, 1991
Iran-contra news clippings
Moyers, Bill, news articles, 1987
Memos, notes, miscellaneous
News clippings, 1987 (2 folders)
News clippings, some annotated by Cohen
Speeches, notes, news clippings (2 folders)

Published Hearings

Iran-Contra Investigation hearings published by the United States Government Printing Office, copies, 1987- 1988 (some with bookmarked pages, but not annotated.) (7 boxes)

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