Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! CounterPunch is entirely supported by our readers. Your donations pay for our small staff, tiny office, writers, designers, techies, bandwidth and servers. We don’t owe anything to advertisers, foundations, one-percenters or political parties. You are our only safety net. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

DAMNING ADMISSIONS:

by Alexander Cockburn And Jeffrey St. Clair

Just under two years ago John Deutch, at that time director of the CIA,traveled to a town meeting in South Central Los Angeles to confront a communityoutraged by charges that the Agency had been complicit in the importingof cocaine into California in the 1980s. Amid heated exchanges Deutch publiclypledged an internal investigation by the CIA’s Inspector General that wouldleave no stone unturned.

It is now possible to review, albeit in substantially censored form,the results of that probe. At the start of this year the Inspector General,Fred Hitz, released a volume specifically addressing charges made in 1996in the San Jose Mercury News. Earlier this month Hitz finally made availablefor public scrutiny a second report addressing broader allegations aboutdrug running by Nicaraguan Contras.

That first volume released ten months ago was replete with damaging admissions.Two examples: The report describes a cable from the CIA’s Directorate ofOperations dated October 22, 1982, describing a prospective meeting betweenContra leaders in Costa Rica for “an exchange in [US] of narcoticsfor arms.” But the CIA’s Director of Operations instructed the Agency’sfield office not to look into this imminent arms-for-drugs transaction”in light of the apparent involvement of US persons throughout.” Inother words, the CIA knew that Contra leaders were scheduling a drugs-for-armsexchange and the Agency was prepared to let the deal proceed.

In 1984, the Inspector General discloses, the CIA intervened with theUS Justice Department to seek the return from police custody of $36,800in cash which had been confiscated from a Nicaraguan drug smuggling gangin the Bay Area whose leader, Norwin Meneses, was a prominent Contra fund-raiser.The money had been taken during what was at the time the largest seizureof cocaine in the history of California.

The CIA’s Inspector General said the Agency took action to have the moneyreturned in order “to protect an operational equity, i.e., a Contrasupport group in which it [CIA] had an operational interest.” Hitzalso unearthed a CIA memo from that time revealing that the Agency understoodthe need to keep this whole affair under wraps because, according to thememo (written by the CIA’s assistant general counsel), “there are sufficientfactual details which would cause certain damage to our image and programin Central America.”

The 146-page first volume is full of admissions of this nature but thesetwo disclosures alone — allowing a Contra drug deal to go forward, andtaking extraordinary action to recoup the proceeds of a drug deal gone awry– should have been greeted as smoking guns, confirming charges made since1985 about the Agency’s role.

The report issued by Hitz a few weeks ago is even richer in devastatingdisclosures. The Inspector General sets forth a sequence of CIA cable trafficshowing that as early as the summer of 1981, the Agency knew that the Contraleadership “had decided to engage in drug trafficking to the UnitedStates to raise funds for its activities.”

The leader of the group whose plans a CIA officer was thus describingwas Enrique Bermudez, a man hand-picked by the Agency to run the militaryoperations of the main Contra organization. It was Bermudez who told Contrafund-raisers and drug traffickers Norwin Meneses and Danilo Blandon (asthe latter subsequently testified for the government to a federal grandjury,) that the end justified the means and they should raise revenue inthis manner.

The CIA was uneasily aware that its failure to advise the Contras tostop drug trafficking might land it in difficulties, Hitz documents thatthe Agency knew that at that time it should report Contra plans to run drugsto the Justice Department and other agencies such as FBI, DEA and US Customs.Nonetheless the CIA kept quiet, and in 1982 got a waiver from the JusticeDepartment giving a legal basis for its inaction.

Hitz enumerates the Contra leaders (“several dozen”) the CIAknew to be involved in drug trafficking, along with another two dozen involvedin Contra supply missions and fund-raising. He confirms that the CIA knewthat Ilopango Air Force Base in El Salvador was an arms-for drugs Contratransshipment point, and discloses a memo in which a CIA officer ordersthe DEA “not to make any inquiries to anyone re Hanger [sic] No. 4at Ilopango.”

Thus, the CIA’s own Inspector General shows that from the very startof the US war on Nicaragua the CIA knew the Contra were planning to trafficin cocaine into the US. It did nothing to stop the traffic and, when othergovernment agencies began to probe, the CIA impeded their investigations.When Contra money raisers were arrested the Agency came to their aid andretrieved their drug money from the police.

So, was the Agency complicit in drug trafficking into Los Angeles andother cities? It is impossible to read Hitz’s report and not conclude thatthis was the case. CP

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net. Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 30, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
Thinking Dangerously in the Age of Normalized Ignorance
Stanley L. Cohen
Israel and Academic Freedom: a Closed Book
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Can Russia Learn From Brazil’s Fate? 
Andrew Levine
A Putrid Election: the Horserace as Farce
Mike Whitney
The Biggest Heist in Human History
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Sick Blue Line
Vijay Prashad
In a Hall of Mirrors: Fear and Dislike at the Polls
Alexander Cockburn
The Man Who Built Clinton World
John Wight
Who Will Save Us From America?
W. T. Whitney
When Women’s Lives Don’t Matter
Jeremy Brecher
Dakota Access Pipeline and the Future of American Labor
Binoy Kampmark
Pictures Left Incomplete: MH17 and the Joint Investigation Team
Andrew Kahn
Nader Gave Us Bush? Hillary Could Give Us Trump
Steve Horn
Obama Weakens Endangered Species Act
Dave Lindorff
US Propaganda Campaign to Demonize Russia in Full Gear over One-Sided Dutch/Aussie Report on Flight 17 Downing
John W. Whitehead
Uncomfortable Truths You Won’t Hear From the Presidential Candidates
Ramzy Baroud
Shimon Peres: Israel’s Nuclear Man
Brandon Jordan
The Battle for Mercosur
Murray Dobbin
A Globalization Wake-Up Call
Jesse Ventura
Corrupted Science: the DEA and Marijuana
Andrew Sullivan
The Democratic Plot to Privatize Social Security
Daniel Borgstrom
On the Streets of Oakland, Expressing Solidarity with Charlotte
Marjorie Cohn
President Obama: ‘Patron’ of the Israeli Occupation
Norman Pollack
The “Self-Hating” Jew: A Critique
David Rosen
The Living Body & the Ecological Crisis
W. T. Whitney
When Women’s Lives Don’t Matter
Richard W. Behan
Hillary Clinton and Our Moribund Democracy
Joseph Natoli
Thoughtcrimes and Stupidspeak: Our Assault Against Words
Ron Jacobs
A Cycle of Death Underscored by Greed and a Lust for Power
Kim Nicolini
Long Drive Home
Art Martin
The Matrix Around the Next Bend: Facebook, Augmented Reality and the Podification of the Populace
Andre Vltchek
Failures of the Western Left
Laura Finley
Presidential Debate Recommendations
José Negroni
Mass Firings on Broadway Lead Singers to Push Back
Leticia Cortez
Entering the Historical Dissonance Surrounding Desafinados
Robert J. Burrowes
Gandhi: ‘My Life is My Message’
Charles R. Larson
Queen Lear? Deborah Levy’s “Hot Milk”
September 29, 2016
Robert Fisk
The Butcher of Qana: Shimon Peres Was No Peacemaker
James Rose
Politics in the Echo Chamber: How Trump Becomes President
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Vice Grip on the Presidential Debates
Daniel Kato
Rethinking the Race over Race: What Clinton Should do Now About ‘Super-Predators’
Peter Certo
Clinton’s Awkward Stumbles on Trade
Fran Shor
Demonizing the Green Party Vote
Rev. William Alberts
Trump’s Road Rage to the White House
Luke O'Brien
Because We Couldn’t Have Sanders, You’ll Get Trump
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]