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As this is being written, President Ronald Reagan is pressuring Congress for $100 million of aid to be sent to the contras — his “freedom fighter” colleagues — in Nicaragua. Weapons, military gear, clothing, medical supplies, aid to mercenary family members and cash — totaling millions of dollars — already have been funneled to these forces dedicated to overthrowing the Nicaraguan government.

While the debate over aid to the contras has been widely publicized, the fact that such aid is a direct violation of the Neutrality Act of 1939 has not been reported. The U.S. Neutrality Act prohibits “the export of arms, ammunition, and implements of war to belligerent countries; the transportation of arms … by vessels of the United States for the use of belligerent states;” it also provides for “the registration and licensing of persons engaged in the business of manufacturing, exporting, or importing arms … “. Since we have not declared war with Nicaragua and are not maintaining a hands-off, neutral position, we’re in direct violation of our own Neutrality Act.

Adding to the violation of the Neutrality Act, which explicitly prohibits funding for military expeditions against a state with which the U.S. is not at war, are the U.S. mercenaries fighting alongside the contras. Section 10 in the Criminal Code of 1909 states “Whoever, within the territory or jurisdiction of the United States, enlists, or enters himself, or hires or retains another person to enlist or enter himself, or to go beyond the limits or jurisdiction of the United States with intent to be enlisted or entered in the service of any foreign state … as a solider, or as a marine or seaman … shall be fined not more than $1000 and imprisoned not more than three years.”

The Reagan administration is well aware that pro-contra groups in the United States are breaking the law by sending millions of dollars and men to train and fight with the contra rebels in Nicaragua.

By flagrantly violating our nation’s own laws, the Reagan administration is acting like a rogue cop on the beat; we should either obey our laws, or, change them. To do otherwise is to announce that the United States is indeed an international war criminal.

And there is an International Court of Justice, at The Hague, where accused international war criminals are tried. The United States was brought before that court, also known as the “World Court,” last `year for military and paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua. The U.S. refused to participate in the hearings and the American media did little to inform the public of what was happening at the World Court. University of Cincinnati law Professor, Michael J. Glennon, who testified at the World Court, nominated The Hague hearings as a “censored story of 1985” and described the media coverage of the World Court as “atrocious.”


COMMON CAUSE MAGAZINE, September 1985, “Disturbing the Peace,” by Jacqueline Sharkey, pp 18-32; U.S. FARM NEWS, June 1985, “Contra Terrorism in Nicaragua, Compliments of Ronald Reagan,” by John E. Millich, pp 4, 9; UNITED NATIONS, GENERAL ASSEMBLY, SECURITY COUNCIL, Report A/40/907, S/17639, 11/19/85; Michael J. Glennon, personal letter to PROJECT CENSORED, 10/22/85.