SHORTLY AFTER taking office on January 20, 1981, Republican President Ronald Reagan decided that he would do everything possible to overthrow the Sandinista pro-communist regime in Nicaragua. Reagan regularly sent requests to Congress seeking appropriations to support the rebel anti-communist Contras, and Congress complied for two years.

However, after it became known that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had been mining the harbors in Nicaragua, Congress realized that if CIA explosives destroyed Soviet ships anchored nearby, an international incident of gigantic proportions could occur. Congress subsequently withdrew its support for funding the Contras. Undaunted, Reagan continued his quest to overthrow the leftist Sandinista regime. The activities of his administration created a major scandal and threatened his presidency.

In response to the president's activities in Nicaragua, on December ...

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