The Great Communicator, Vol 1: The Reagan Presidency 1981-1989
02:04:17 - 02:06:32
March 4, 1987 Address to the Nation on the Iran Arms and Contra Aid Controversy. (Iran-Contra scandal) Ronald Reagan says that as unaware as he was of the disgraceful activities surrounding the scandal, he should still be held accountable for his actions, as well as those under his administration. "First let me say that I take full responsibility for my own actions and for those of my administration. As angry as I may be about activites undertaken without my knowledge, I am still accountable for those activities. As disappointed as I may be in some who served me, I am still the one who must answer to the American people for this behavior. And as personally distasteful as I find secret bank accounts and diverted funds, as the Navy would say, this happened on my watch. Let's start with the part that is the most contreversial. A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart & my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts & evidence tell me it is not. As the Tower Board reported, what began as a strategic opening to Iran deteriorated in its implementation into trading arms for hostages. This runs counter to my own beliefs, to adminstration policy, and to the original strategy we had in mind. There are reasons why it happened. But no excuses. It was a mistake. Now, what should happen when you make a mistake is this. You take your knocks, you learn your lessons, and then you move on. That's the healthiest way to deal with a problem. This in no way diminished the importance of the other continuing investigations, but the business of our country and our people must proceed. I've gotten this message from Republicans and Democrats in Congress, from allies around the world, and if we're reading the signals right, even from the Soviets. And of course, I've heard the message from you, the American people. You know, by the time you reach my age, you've made plenty of mistakes and if you've lived your life properly, so you learn. You put things in perspective, you pull your energies together, you change, you go forward. My fellow Americans, I have a great deal I want to accomplish with you and for you, over the next 2 years. And the Lord willing, that's exactly what I intend to do."