Photograph by Jason Bleibtreu/Sygma/Corbis
What began as illegal arms sales to Iran in exchange for the release of U.S. hostages evolved into a plan to divert money from those sales to fund rebels in Nicaragua, who were fighting a guerrilla war against the government. U.S. officials covertly sold arms to Iran, which was then the subject of an arms embargo, and the money in turn helped to fund the Contras -- support Congress had prohibited. "Contragate," also known as "Iran-Contra," brought down one of its chief orchestrators, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, who worked for the National Security Council. Fourteen were indicted, 11 were convicted, and all were pardoned by President George H. W. Bush at the end of his term. What remains unclear to this day is whether or not President Ronald Reagan knew of the money diversion, though he said at the time that he took responsibility for what ultimately occurred.