10.May 2003 01:48:00
Center for International Policy's Intelligence Reform Project
former chief investigator,
Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee
Central Intelligence Agency-contra-drug connection in
former chief of staff,
Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee
Sen. Frank Church that investigated the CIA in the
Wall Street Journal investigative reporter,
author of Endless Enemies:
The Making of an Unfriendly World
(New York: Congdon & Weed, 1984)
professor of Southeast Asian history at the University of Wisconsin;
author of The Politics of Heroin:
CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade (Lawrence Hill, 1991) and
The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia
former chief of Soviet-affairs division, CIA
welcomed the seminar participants and audience.
He noted that it
A Miami grand jury had indicted a former general in Venezuela
on charges that he smuggled cocaine into the United States.
Gen. Ramon Guillen
headed a special CIA-financed Venezuelan National Guard antinarcotics unit.
This was a sting operation that went massively awry.
The CIA had said that it was regrettable.
San Jose Mercury-News's
He just wished it had similarly gone after
the San Jose Mercury News reported
delivered tons of cocaine to Los Angeles gangs
during the 1980s.
The Mercury concluded,
"The contra- run drug network opened the first conduit
between Colombia's . . .cartels and Los Angeles's black neighborhoods . . .
It's impossible to believe that the Central Intelligence Agency didn't know."
Internet hits at the Mercury passed eight hundred thousand daily
and black anger was rising.
going far beyond what the Mercury said—
accused the CIA of
willfully destroying their communities with crack.
CIA director John Deutch
shot back that
"the agency neither participated in
by Contra forces."
the Washington Post published a
front- page "investigation"
the rise of crack in Los Angeles
was the work of just one syndicate and
charging the Mercury's exposé merely
"echoed decade- old allegations."
Two weeks later,
the New York Times and Los Angeles Times
attacking the Mercury's story and
This racially- charged debate
raised four questions
the CIA and drugs—
Did the agency
ally with drug traffickers?
Did the CIA protect these allies from prosecution?
Did such alliances and protection
to an expansion of the global drug trade
over the past forty years?
did the CIA encourage drug smugglers
to target African-American communities?
For those of the audience who might have to leave early,
the answers were:
Professor McCoy said,
he had been looking at this question,
focusing on the alliances between the agency and Asian drug lords
during the forty years of the Cold War.
He believed that
alleged CIA involvement in the contra cocaine trade.
the CIA used gangsters and warlords,
many of them drug dealers,
to fight communism.
As the Cold War ended,
the list of CIA assets
who used their alliance with the agency to deal drugs
had grown longer—
National Chinese irregulars,
Mexican police units,
government intelligence services,
the CIA included,
forged covert- action alliances
with some of Asia's key opium traffickers,
inadvertently contributing to an initial expansion of opium production.
In one of history's accidents,
the Iron Curtain fell along an Asian opium zone that
stretched for five thousand miles
from Turkey to Thailand—
making these rugged highlands a key front of Cold War confrontation.
during the forty years of the Cold War
it found that
ethnic warlords were its most effective covert-action assets.
These leaders exploited the CIA alliance
to become drug lords,
expanding opium production and exporting refined heroin.
Since ruthless drug lords made effective anti- communists
CIA agents did not tamper with the requisites of success
in such delicate operations.
since the end of World War II,
Professor McCoy discerned
periodic increases in drug supply
— rather approximately —
with covert operations in the drug zones.
the site of
CIA alliances with drug lords.
Southeast Asia—CIA Operations
most Southeast Asian governments sponsored state monopolies
that sold smoking opium to registered addicts
and generated substantial tax revenues.
—very importantly for our story—
a minor producer.
Southeast Asia harvested a total of only 15.5 tons
in a region that
produces over 3,000 tons.
British India supplied these government monopolies with limitless low- cost opium,
Southeast Asian governments had no reason to encourage local cultivation.
growth of Golden Triangle opium production
in the 1950s
a response to two stimuli
—prohibition and protection.
Responding to pressures from the United Nations,
Southeast Asia's governments abolished legal opium sales
between 1950 and 1961,
a sudden demand for illicit opiates
in the cities of Southeast Asia.
An alliance of three intelligence services
—Thai, American and Nationalist Chinese—
played a catalytic role
in promoting the production of raw opium
on the Shan Plateau of northern Burma.
the CIA covert operations in northern Burma
the poppy fields of Burma
After the collapse of the Nationalist Chinese government in
some of its forces
fled across the border into Burma
where the CIA equipped them for several abortive invasions of China.
ordered the CIA to organize these Nationalist remnants inside Burma
for an invasion of southwestern China.
The records remain secret
Professor McCoy suspected,
it was one of the most foolish operations
their invasions of
were repulsed with heavy casualties,
for another decade
local hill tribes to produce opium,
the Nationalist troops supervised
a massive increase of poppy cultivation on the Shan Plateau.
the Burmese Army evicted them in
the Nationalist forces established new base camps
just across the border in Thailand and
from there dominated the Shan States opium trade
Burma's opium production had risen
from 15 to 300 tons—
thus creating the opium zone
that was now called the Golden Triangle.
distance would insulate
from the consequences of complicity.
the French military
integrated opium trafficking
that the CIA would
After abolition of the opium monopoly in
French military intelligence,
the Hmong poppy fields of Laos
with the opium dens operating in Saigon
—generating profits that funded French covert operations in their Vietnam war.
the CIA fell heir to these covert alliances and their involvement in opium trading.
during the 1960s,
the CIA battled communists
with a secret army of thirty thousand Hmong highlanders
—a secret war that implicated the CIA in that country's opium traffic.
Although the Agency did not profit directly from the trade,
was nonetheless integrated with the Laotian opium trade.
The answer lay in
the CIA's doctrine of covert action
and its consequent reliance upon
the influence of local military leaders or warlords.
a handful of CIA agents relied on tribal leaders
to motivate their troops and Lao generals to protect their cover.
the fighting in Vietnam
CIA recruited some thirty thousand Hmong highlanders for its secret army
—making this tribe a critical CIA asset.
00.000.1965 and 00.000.1970,
recovered downed U.S. pilots,
battled local Pathet Lao communists,
monitored the Ho Chi Minh trail, and
protected the radar that guided the bombing of North Vietnam.
according to a U.S. Air Force study,
every Hmong family had lost members.
the CIA sent in American agents
on a ratio of one per thousand Hmong guerrillas
—numbers that made the Agency dependent upon tribal leaders
who could mobilize their people for this bloody slaughter.
its chosen client,
Hmong general Vang Pao,
control over all air transport into the Hmong villages
scattered across the mountaintops of northern Laos —
over both the shipment of rice, the main subsistence commodity,
into the villages + the transport of opium,
the tribe's main cash crop, out to markets.
chokehold over the household economy of every Hmong family,
General Vang Pao was transformed into a tribal warlord
who could extract boy soldiers for slaughter
in an endless war.
opium trading reinforced the authority of these Hmong officers,
the CIA found it necessary to tolerate the traffic.
The CIA's policy of tolerance towards its Laotian allies
even when they began producing heroin
to supply U.S. combat forces fighting in South Vietnam.
CIA assets opened a cluster of heroin laboratories in the Golden Triangle
—the tri- border area where
Burma, Thailand + Laos converge.
loaded opium on the CIA's Air America
and the Lao Army's commander
opened a heroin laboratory
the Agency was silent.
In a secret internal report compiled in
the CIA's inspector-general
said the following to explain their inaction:
the military activities of Agency- supported irregulars.
according to a White House survey,
34 percent of U.S. troops were addicted.
trying to restrain drug trafficking by its Laotian assets,
the Agency, CIA, engaged in concealment and cover- up.
Professor McCoy recalled that
the Lao army commander
but the U.S. mission stonewalled.
In a Hmong village,
where he was investigating opium shipments on Air America,
CIA mercenaries ambushed his research team.
A CIA operative threatened to murder his Lao interpreter unless he quit.
the CIA's Deputy Director for Plans
pressured his publisher to suppress it
the CIA's general counsel
demanded deletions of all references to Agency,CIA, complicity.
the book was published unaltered,
pressed his sources
to recant and convinced investigators from the
House Foreign Affairs Committee
that his allegations were baseless.
the CIA's inspector-general
conducted a secret internal investigation that confirmed his allegations.
"The war has clearly been our overriding priority in Southeast Asia
and all other issues have taken second place,"
the inspector-general said in defense of their inaction on drugs.
"It would be foolish to deny this + we see no reason to do so."
Southeast Asian syndicates were supplying
a quarter of U.S. demand with Golden Triangle heroin.
Asia was too remote for allegations of CIA complicity
to pack any political punch.
CIA in the 1980s
—Central Asia and Central America
in the revival of the U.S. drug problem
in the 1980s.
prompting two major CIA operations
with some revealing similarities.
heroin production in
Southwest Asia—Afghanistan and Pakistan—
expanded to fill gaps in the global drug market.
in the mid 00.000.1970s,
in the mid-1970s,
the former CIA director,
there was no heroin production in this region
—only a localized opium trade.
supplied zero percent of U.S. heroin supply.
the U.S. attorney-general
Pakistan was supplying 60 percent of U.S. demand.
rising from zero heroin addicts in
Pakistan had five thousand in
and 1.2 million in
the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in
the White House assigned the CIA
to mount a major operation to support the Afghan resistance.
Working through Pakistan's ISI,
the CIA began supplying covert arms and finance to
the Afghan guerrillas required that its supporters grow opium to support the resistance.
Pakistan military and Afghan resistance
opened heroin labs on the border.
According to the Washington Post of
an Afghan leader
who received half of the
$2 billion in covert arms
United States shipped to Pakistan.
Hekmatyar's brutality and drug trafficking within the ranks of the Afghan resistance,
the CIA maintained an uncritical alliance
and supported him
without reservation or restraint.
decade of this operation,
the substantial DEA contingent in Islamabad
brought about no arrests or seizures—
allowing the syndicates a de facto free hand to export heroin.
this operation led to an expansion of the Pakistan- Afghanistan heroin trade.
CIA director of this Afghan operation,
Cogan, Charles admitted sacrificing the drug war to fight the cold war.
"Our main mission was to do as much damage as possible to the Soviets.
We didn't really have the resources or the time to devote to an investigation of the drug trade,"
he told Australian television.
Every situation has its fallout . . .
There was fallout in term of drugs, yes.
But the main objective was accomplished.
The Soviets left Afghanistan."
distance insulated the CIA from political fallout.
Once the heroin left Pakistan,
Sicilian mafia exported it to the United States
and local gangs sold it on the street.
did not make the equation
between Afghan drug lords and the heroin in their cities.
has made the fallout from the CIA's operation
Unlike the CIA's Asian warlords,
Nicaragua's contras did not produce drugs
and had to make money
by smuggling cocaine
in the late
Sen. John Kerry's subcommittee
investigated the contra- cocaine links.
His investigators established that
four contra- connected corporations
hired by the State Department
to fly "humanitarian relief" goods to Central America
were also involved in cocaine smuggling.
committee heard the pilots give eyewitness testimony
they had seen cocaine loaded on their aircraft
for the return flight to the United States.
his office had been closed in
since it was generating intelligence
—thereby threatening the CIA's relationship with the Honduran military
in this key frontline state for the contra operation.
had once again
created a de facto zone of protection
closed to investigators from outside agencies.
the Kerry committee established a
CIA complicity in Central America
strikingly similar to
the one seen in Laos and Afghanistan—
tolerance for drug dealing by its assets
larger covert operation.
San Jose Mercury-News story
tried to go to the next step—
establishing a direct link to the distribution of drugs in the United States.
Mercury reporter Gary Webb,
this "dark alliance" began
in the early
the contra revolt against Nicaragua's leftist Sandinista government
was failing for want of funds.
His scenario was:
the CIA hired ex- Nicaraguan army colonel Enrique Bermudez
what became main contra guerrilla army,
turned to two Nicaraguan exiles in the United States
to supplement meager agency support with drug profits.
the former director of Nicaragua's farm marketing program,
used his formidable business skills
to open a new crack distribution network
for the contras.
Sensing the potential of the Los Angeles ghetto,
Blandon allied with the
"Freeway Rick" Ross
to convert tons of cocaine into low- cost crack
and thus exploit
what was still an untapped market among the city's poor blacks.
During its decade of operation,
this crack network
enjoyed a de facto immunity from prosection.
the DEA, Customs, or the Los Angeles County sheriffs
tried to investigate,
the CIA and the Justice Department
Los Angeles sheriffs raided
what their warrant called
Blandon's "sophisticated cocaine smuggling and distribution operation,"
found every location wiped clean of evidence.
The police were convinced that
By the late
the operation had lost its contra connection
both dealers were soon arrested on drug charges.
Freeway Rick started serving a ten- year sentence,
the Justice Department
intervened to free the contra- connected Blandon, Danilo.
the Agency, CIA 's relations with Asian opium lords
were lost in the mists of faraway mountains,
Rep. Maxine Waters,
the Black Caucus leader from Los Angeles,
has police documents to charge the CIA
with protecting contra cocaine dealers.
Question No. l:
Did the Agency ever ally with drug traffickers?
Yes, beyond any doubt.
Although this question was once controversial,
not even the CIA any longer bothered to deny
that it had often allied with major and minor drug dealers.
Question No. 2:
Did the CIA protect these allies from prosecution?
Yes, there was a recurring pattern of protection.
During a major CIA operation,
was subordinated to the prosecution of the covert operation.
For the duration of the operation,
key assets were given a de facto immunity to prosecution.
Question No. 3:
Did such alliances and protections
to an expansion of the global drug trade
the past forty
If Clio, the muse of history,
were to waft in and place perfect information
on two tables
for two academics,
they would probably produce two books
very different answers.
Professor McCoy believed that
in Burma, Laos + Afghanistan,
CIA operations provided critical elements
—logistics, arms + political protection—
that facilitated the rapid growth of opium and heroin production
the ,CIA, agency alliance was central to the rise of some major drug dealers
catalytic in the expansion of production or processing in certain zones.
It would not be unreasonable to conclude, therefore, that
such CIA operations
led to an increase in the production and processing of illicit drugs
it was difficult to state unequivocally that
these individual dealers or zones
did or did not
shape the long- term trajectory of supply and demand
Question No. 4:
did the CIA encourage drug smugglers
The pattern of CIA complicity in drugs
proceeded from the internal logic of its covert operations,
an inadvertent consequence of
indirect intervention abroad.
There was a
in the patterns of CIA complicity
could find no evidence,
nor any logic,
to the proposition that
the CIA in Laos
one- third of the GIs in South Vietnam to become heroin addicts,
he could see no evidence or logic of
in south-central Los Angeles.
During the 1980s,
there was every indication that
the CIA was aware that
its Afghan and Central American allies
contributed to the export of cocaine and heroin to the United States
—and did nothing to slow this drug flow.
a substantial portion of the African- American community
—that the CIA willfully flooded their communities with drugs—
the time had come for
a unflinching search for the answers
Professor McCoy had a good idea what it would find.
there was evidence
that the CIA actually trafficked in drugs
whether GIs in South Vietnam or blacks in South Central.
investigators would discover CIA alliances with
warlords, colonels + criminals
who used its protection to deal drugs.
what Professor McCoy called
CIA agents regarded narcotics as mere "fallout."
For CIA agents in Laos, the heroin epidemic among GIs in Vietnam was only fallout.
For agents in Pakistan and Central America, drug shipments to America were just fallout.
these findings would be profoundly disturbing.
from their Afghan and Central American operations
might spark considerable controversy.
these findings would be better for this nation's political health
the CIA's blanket denials which could only fan the flames of allegations that
it willfully targeted black communities for drug distribution.
Separating Fact from Fiction
the CIA's Drug Role —A Presentation
he had written a review of Professor McCoy's book in
He had told his editors that
these were not wild charges, unsubstantiated or unverifiable.
On the contrary,
Professor McCoy had named every name.
His reporting was factual.
In his review,
he had called for an official investigation of Professor McCoy's charges.
Mr. Kwitny said,
he was still waiting for that investigation.
the Salvadoran military facility,
in the mid-
They were refueling a C-47 identified as PPCED.
It was signed by
a contra, close to
the American who had a munitions base in Costa Rica.
The plane was owned by
He was then indicted for cocaine dealing in the United States and
was serving sixteen years in a Florida jail.
Geraldo Duran, identified by the Department of Justice as a major drug dealer.
The agent handling the sale was
Sam Vieres of Memphis
and the receiver was
It was sold for $264,000 in small bills brought by
the use of dollars to buy equipment for the contras was a fact, Mr. Kwitny said.
It had been known
for nine years.
At that time,
he recalled that he had accumulated documents on it.
No one was interested.
The only one they were interested in prosecuting was
because that would implicate
they never had evidence that Sandinista leaders were involved in the drug trade.
The information was totally unreliable,
which didn't keep it from being used in a U.S. president's speeches.
got far more attention
than the substantiated charges
against the contras.
Mr. Kwitny recalled, he couldn't
get the Wall Street Journal to run articles
on the importance of cocaine-running by the contras.
The Wall Street Journal did run gutsy articles on a number of other issues.
the San Jose Mercury-News's series sparked this major controversy.
He noted, too, that
the denials of the series' charges always lumped several quite distinct statements together.
They accused the series
the CIA intended to channel cocaine into the black community
was responsible for the epidemic of drugs in the community.
the San Jose Mercury-News articles were detailed and impressive on this point:
have had knowledge of the contras' drug-running.
Added to that were
a couple of charges the reporters
should not have made:
What the contras did with the money.
Mr. Kwitny doubted that they used much of it for the war.
Implications about the attitude of the CIA.
The series made no false statements
it made suggestions that should have been presented skeptically.
There was no evidence that the CIA did it deliberately to target the black community.
Robert Owen wrote a letter to Oliver North
a contra group they were allied with had a questionable past,
including potential involvement in drug-running.
The letter writers were disturbed that the contras were running drugs,
and wished they could stop or minimize it.
Drug-running on the side was inherent to the sort of war they were promoting.
the CIA mounted an operation
to remove socialists from the leadership of a Marseilles union
put in Corsican drug dealers in their place.
The United States dealt with Noriega
for many years,
and knew that he was dealing in drugs.
Lebanese working for the CIA
in the early 1970s
were engaged in it.
The DEA found that
Lebanese working for the CIA in the early
were responsible for an enormous volume of shipments.
DEA investigation was stopped by the CIA.
World Finance Corporation,
involved with drugs,
was set up with the involvement of CIA Cubans.
An FBI and DEA taskforce investigated the corporation
The investigation was stopped.
Mr. Kwitny recalled being told by a senior investigator that
the CIA stopped the investigation
because more than half of the people on the suspect list were CIA.
Nugan Hand Bank,
founded by CIA and DOD veterans,
all DEA agents were told to back off.
There were heavy drug deals by the Nugan Hand Bank.
the Senate Intelligence Committee used questions
when the government secretly used people who were pledged to secrecy,
those lured to the operation would include people who wanted secrecy for criminal activity.
Of these activities, drugs were the most lucrative.
At the height of the Cold War,
a case could be made for it. [???????]
Mr. Kwitny asked,
was the threat so serious as to justify it?
Investigating the CIA-Drugs Connection
—A Presentation by Jack A. Blum
if one made a list of covert operations involving drugs,
It would include Burma, Afghanistan + Thailand.
Covert action and criminality went together.
Watergate was only the most reprehensible case of blowback.
the failure to discuss a future policy to end this problem.
Intelligence had a legitimate role to assess the real threats to the United States,
to equip the country's leaders with this knowledge.
when intelligence agencies engaged in covert operations, this was something else altogether.
the intelligence service became more interested in its daily operations
than in gathering information about genuine threats.
The massive inflow of drugs into the country was such a threat, Mr. Blum considered.
the Carlos Leder and
Robert Vesco operations,
which flew in drugs to the United States.
the U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas, Lev Dobriansky,
said to leave Prime Minister Pindling alone.
Pindling even hired a public-relations firm [PROPAGANDA]
that put out the line
that the root of the problem
This was the origin of the Just Say No campaign.
The firm also ran Paula Hawkins's campaign.[PROPAGANDA]
Not only did they enter into the U.S. political process,
they developed it into a wedge issue in U.S. politics.
In so doing, they made the victims into the
The intelligence community had never learned that the Cold War was over.
Ten days after the wall came down,
Stasi agents were arrested in Bonn.
They were still doing their espionage work, even though they had no government to work for.
a corrupt general was better to work with than an honest politician
who might have some differences with U.S. policy.
For example, in Panama and Chile.
Why did they consider the general better?
The corrupt general appeared to make a more reliable ally.
a dilemma that went back to Thucydides,
who wrote about how democratic city-states were reluctant to ally with generals.
The U.S. black budget was growing bigger and bigger.
This was only small change for him.
But the serious money came from drug trafficking.
It would be impossible for the CIA
to directly pay a corrupt foreign leader enough money to make him a loyal agent.
A hard-pressed intelligence agency kept them in line by giving them the opportunity to steal.
if the country didn't stop it
it would get a more aggressive variant of the lawlessness of the
was working for the United States, as a man who could lobby Congress.
Calero, Adolfo influenced U.S. public opinion.
That was out of the nation's tax dollars.
That was about as dangerous to the constitution as it could get.
If it was okay for the CIA to silence domestic criticism, the country was endangering its freedoms.
If anyone who wanted genuine reform were nominated, that person wouldn't be confirmed.
The CIA agency vetoed
after President Carter publicly chose him.
candidates were quietly "cleared."
and wanted to protect its freedoms,
it must take action now.
Comment by Clarence Page
in his effort to make the black community take some responsibility for the problem,
he had said that it must reduce demand.
He was struck by what Mr. Blum had said
about the demand argument being planted by the drug dealers themselves.
At the same time,
the government should not be giving aid and comfort to the enemy
— the international drug shippers.
the black community had not been deliberately targeted.
That was clear from the available evidence and argument.
Mr. Blum had pinpointed the problem of the intelligence agencies allowing the drugs to come in.
if he were to write a book on the pathologies of the press, he would include:
If one could not recover the other guy's scoop, knock it down.
This happened with the San Jose Mercury-News stories.
a variant of this,
the press stories were full of the government's denials.
if one read further in the
New York Times,
Los Angeles Times
stories on the
they said that
the basic question was
whether the CIA knew.
Los Angeles Times
story even brought forward additional information on the connection to Blandon's nephew.
The old news syndrome.
The editors said that this story was déjà vu.
They said that they had heard all this before.
The other-than-beat-reporter syndrome.
The story was done by a regional newspaper.
Major newspapers found it hard to admit they were scooped.
Healthy skepticism could cross the line into cynicism.
This accounted for the fact that
the story was dismissed too rapidly.
the COINTELPRO revelations,
the Tuskegee experiment,
the Black Panther ambushes,
this episode reinforced paranoid notions that
the community's problems were attributable to an external enemy.
Mr. Page recalled that
Henry Kissinger had once said,
there was a degree of hype in the San Jose Mercury-News story,
Mr. Page continued.
all editors had also admitted that one could not pursue the story this far
without upsetting the black community.
Maybe it got too excited, but it started the debate.
although the story about the conspiracy to commit genocide had not been published, it did not die.
Louis Farrakhan made a good point when he said that
there was an element of government criminal liability in letting the drugs in.
It was the same as with tobacco.
There was government liability there.
Mr. Page asked why this argument should be left to Mr. Farrakhan to make.
J. Edgar Hoover
had thought that
the Black Panthers were the number-one enemy of America.
Association of National Security Alumni
referred to Mr. Blum's comment that
it was the primary task of intelligence
to identify and analyze the threat to the United States,
not to engage in covert action.
it was the job of the intelligence service, CIA to define the threat.
that was not the job of the elected leadership.
the speakers had said that the drug-running was not used to fund the contras.
He noted, however, that
had looked at that possibility.
why the district attorney of Dade County,
after all the evidence of drug-trafficking in his district,
had not indicted anyone.
the seminar participants had said that
the black community had not been targeted.
However, he noted that
the Mafia had very specifically targeted the black community.
when he was in the government,
he had laid out in a memo
the links between the Colombian government and the MAS drug-trafficking group.
The station chief in Colombia flew up and vetoed any mention of this in the paper.
before commenting on Mr. MacMichael's questions,
countries should be permitted to make their own mistakes;
e.g., Chile should be allowed to elect a government that the U.S. government might not like.
He recalled that
he had met with an anti-Sandinista Nicaraguan businessman in
This businessman acknowledged that
the Sandinistas had brought honest government to Nicaragua.
he said that
the ruin that was befalling Nicaragua was due to the fact that
the United States would not permit the Sandinistas to rule.
So, in the end it was the Sandinistas' fault.
addressed the question of targeting of the black community brought up by Mr. MacMichael.
He noted that
the country's racial misunderstanding could revolve around particular words.
He asked whether it was targeting blacks,
or merely poor people,
when a cheap drug was invented
that cost only ten dollars a hit.
The biggest gangs in America were in Los Angeles.
They constituted a ready-made network.
there was not a scintilla of evidence that the CIA had deliberately targeted the black community. Nor was there logic.
What occurred was that
the CIA made an operational compromise for the sake of the success of its covert action.
It essentially said,
"You mobilize for us and we'll look the other way."
Professor McCoy said,
the CIA kept the DEA away.
if anyone investigated or arrested its operatives,
the CIA intervened to get the charges taken off.
These were the tradeoffs it made to insure that the operation succeeded.
The CIA did not concern itself with nor control the downstream trafficking.
Inside the operational zone the CIA controlled, outside not.
the word 'targeting' implied will, intention.
There was no evidence that the CIA so intended.
The only possibility was that it favored it for its Laotian clients so
that they could have a healthy economy.
he did not have evidence for that.
it was necessary to separate the concept of targeting from the distribution network and recipients. An addict with money was not seen as a problem by society.
The problem came when the addict had no money.
Some of the top users had been NBC stars.
The real money in drug-running was made there.
The country focused on the inner city
because there was a distribution network of talented risk-takers,
people who were willing to take risks to make a hundred dollars overnight.
Mr. Blum agreed with Mr. MacMichael
that it was not the job of the CIA to define the threat.
it was the job of the intelligence community to advise of the threats.
The objective reality was that
the intelligence community was not telling the truth about the real threats to the nation,
was advancing the careers of its members
by providing what the policy-makers wanted ideologically.
asked about the CIA's blocking of prosecution to protect its operatives from drug charges.
He wanted to know
how much was on the public record of the CIA's actually blocking prosecution.
there were two phases to the CIA's protection of its assets.
when the CIA had an operational zone, it was closed to investigation by other agencies.
The DEA and other agencies had elaborate investigatory capabilities.
In the CIA's zone, however, assets made heroin with absolute impunity.
For example, the DEA had seventeen agents in Islamabad.
It had an elaborate network.
Yet it was a detective from Oslo,
using basic investigatory techniques, who first tracked the heroin back to Islamabad,
even though the DEA had seventeen agents there.
but it was closed during
during the period of clandestine CIA support of the contras.
Then when the Boland amendment was rescinded in
and the contras fully funded by Congress,
the office was reopened.
outside the zone, this raised the question whether Blandon's operation was protected.
That needed further investigation
it would be unusual,
because the protecting was usually in the zone,
in response to Ambassador DePree's question
about whether the CIA's blocking of investigations was on the public record,
that he had printed it.
the protection was similar to the way in which the United States had handled
Salvadoran human rights abuses
— it had covered them up to advance the anti-guerrilla war.
it was policy that CIA agents would sit in in meetings with US criminial prosecutors,
when their assets were involved.
whether the CIA was a rogue agency that was not disciplined,
and it was part of the country's foreign policy to contain Communism.
he found it troubling that presidents would operate in an unaccountable way.
In Iran-contra, the record was clear that
and the others
were all pushing for it.
how the public could hold the political leadership accountable.
The country's political leaders had found it desirable to operate in secrecy.
Governments liked to operate in secret.
the question before the country was whether it would try to reinstall constitutional governance.
legally treaties were the law of the land.
He asked how the CIA could legally intervene in another country in violation of a treaty.
He noted that their response to this argument was laughter.
What the nation ended up with was not a government of laws.
there was a tendency in the CIA to militarize.
The covert operations were military.
The intelligence community involved the army and the other military services.
And the CIA budget came under the Pentagon's.
He asked how this problem should be handled.
to have military people in intelligence was equivalent to their escaping the chain of command.
It was a situation dangerous to constitutional government.
when Senator Church made his famous remark about the rogue elephant,
all the things he was investigating
— the murder of Patrice Lumumba, for example —
had come right out of the Oval Office.
This included the contras.
It was not a rogue agency at all.
the Pentagon budget was influenced by what the CIA had to say about the degree of threat.
CIA director Deutch
was moving the CIA closer to the Pentagon than any other director.
The national intelligence estimates had been downgraded.
Most dangerous of all, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency had been put in the Pentagon. That meant that
a policy-making organization was interpreting satellite data important to its budget.
The CIA was supposed to be the honest broker.
How did they deal with the criminalization of clandestine operations?
Were they more cynical, or more effective in handling the problem?
Britain had no constitution + the French were totally cynical.
There was no foreign model for the United States to follow.
To the extent that there was a model, it was the Russians.
The United States patterned itself after them.
But he asked whether this was necessary at all times.
Mr. Goodman acknowledged that Britain operated without a written constitution.
But it at least clearly separated intelligence from policy agencies.
even though reality had negated borders.
he asked the panel whether it agreed that some secrecy was still necessary.
He asked how much publicity could be allowed without destroying intelligence capabilities.
what reforms did the panel propose?
a member of the audience recalled that
when he was at the CIA and a question of criminal activity arose,
he had said that he wanted to call the FBI.
He was shut down for saying that.
He asked what the statutory chart was of the CIA's authority.
the National Security Act of
creating the CIA
said nothing about covert
end of the Cold War,
the paramilitary operations would diminish.
Would the CIA link with drugs therefore also diminish?
The complicity of the CIA in the global drug trade arose from a series of alliances of the Cold War. That was less likely now.
The whole debate about drug-running and CIA complicity was about history.
The question was nevertheless a sensitive one for the war against drugs.
from an examination of that history,
that a substantial amount of drug imports were encouraged by these operations,
that raised big questions of money liability.
It raised the question of
whether there should not be an amnesty for all those caught using narcotics
on the ground of entrapment.
there was no evidence of a diminution of paramilitary operations.
They were going on
in Iraq and Sudan,
he also did not share Professor McCoy's optimism
The director of the CIA thought that covert action was a unique tool.
The budget of the CIA was increasing.
The agency was looking for a justification.
There was operation in Marseilles in the
there had been an operation in Sicily.
much of the convervative press in the
referred to the Cuban government as engaged in drug-trafficking.
Was there any evidence of that?
Or was that a CIA covert operation itself?
A general was executed by the Cuban government.
the parallels between what happened with Cuban and US intelligence operations were striking.
The Cubans wanted to get around the U.S. blockade.
That sent them to Panama and
got them into the drug trade.
the rebuttals of the San Jose Mercury's story
that appeared in the
New York Times and Washington Post
the Meneses-Blandon drug activities were only a drop in the bucket in the total U.S. drug market,
the story said that Blandon started the whole crack epidemic.
In some other respects, the Times and Post reviews corroborated the Mercury series,
but that on the question of volume the two newspapers found great fault with the story.
That appeared to be their major objection to it.
Blandon and Meneses were not the principal movers.
There were many others involved,
the San Jose Mercury had overemphasized the "Johnny Appleseed" angle,
maintaining that Blandon had spread the crack epidemic to Los Angeles,
and that sparked the national debate over the question.
In that respect, the rebuttal that appeared in the other newspapers was important and valid.
if one stepped back and asks,
Did CIA assets supply significant amounts of drugs to the black community,
the answer was yes.
formerly a CIA and State Department official, said that
the nation certainly needed a CIA.
It could be called something else, but an intelligence capability was needed.
It did not need a Murder, Inc.
It did not need involvement with druggies.
It needed a government agency that worked on the basis of a charter.
the Washington Post's ombudsman,
ten days ago
that the Mercury series provoked a debate and applied an important corrective.
as a result of the Mercury series,
there was a constituency in the United States
that saw that what went on overseas affected them.
That might help undo the immunity of foreign policy from domestic criticism.
It is an open secret that
the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this."
~~ Albert Einstein on Prohibition,