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.

May 24, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
The Financial Invasion of Greece
Jonathan Cook
Religious Zealots Ready for Takeover of Israeli Army
Ted Rall
Why I Am #NeverHillary
Mari Jo Buhle – Paul Buhle
Television Meets History
Robert Hunziker
Troika Heat-Seeking Missile Destroys Greece
Judy Gumbo
May Day Road Trip: 1968 – 2016
Colin Todhunter
Cheerleader for US Aggression, Pushing the World to the Nuclear Brink
Jeremy Brecher
This is What Insurgency Looks Like
Jonathan Latham
Unsafe at Any Dose: Chemical Safety Failures from DDT to Glyphosate to BPA
Binoy Kampmark
Suing Russia: Litigating over MH17
Dave Lindorff
Europe, the US and the Politics of Pissing and Being Pissed
Matt Peppe
Cashing In at the Race Track While Facing Charges of “Abusive” Lending Practices
Gilbert Mercier
If Bernie Sanders Is Real, He Will Run as an Independent
Peter Bohmer
A Year Later! The Struggle for Justice Continues!
Dave Welsh
Police Chief Fired in Victory for the Frisco 500
May 23, 2016
Conn Hallinan
European Union: a House Divided
Paul Buhle
Labor’s Sell-Out and the Sanders Campaign
Uri Avnery
Israeli Weimar: It Can Happen Here
John Stauber
Why Bernie was Busted From the Beginning
James Bovard
Obama’s Biggest Corruption Charade
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
Indian Point Nuclear Plant: It Doesn’t Take a Meltdown to Harm Local Residents
Desiree Hellegers
“Energy Without Injury”: From Redwood Summer to Break Free via Occupy Wall Street
Lawrence Davidson
The Unraveling of Zionism?
Patrick Cockburn
Why Visa Waivers are Dangerous for Turks
Robert Koehler
Rethinking Criminal Justice
Lawrence Wittner
The Return of Democratic Socialism
Ha-Joon Chang
What Britain Forgot: Making Things Matters
John V. Walsh
Only Donald Trump Raises Five “Fundamental and Urgent” Foreign Policy Questions: Stephen F. Cohen Bemoans MSM’s Dismissal of Trump’s Queries
Andrew Stewart
The Occupation of the American Mind: a Film That Palestinians Deserve
Nyla Ali Khan
The Vulnerable Repositories of Honor in Kashmir
Weekend Edition
May 20, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Hillary Clinton and Political Violence
Andrew Levine
Why Not Hillary?
Paul Street
Hillary Clinton’s Neocon Resumé
Chris Floyd
Twilight of the Grifter: Bill Clinton’s Fading Powers
Eric Mann
How We Got the Tanks and M-16s Out of LA Schools
Jason Hirthler
The West’s Needless Aggression
Dan Arel
Why Hillary Clinton’s Camp Should Be Scared
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima Flunks Decontamination
David Rosen
The Privatization of the Public Sphere
Margaret Kimberley
Obama’s Civil Rights Hypocrisy
Chris Gilbert
Corruption in Latin American Governments
Pete Dolack
We Can Dream, or We Can Organize
Dan Kovalik
Colombia: the Displaced & Invisible Nation
Jeffrey St. Clair
Fat Man Earrings: a Nuclear Parable
Medea Benjamin
Israel and Saudi Arabia: Strange Bedfellows in the New Middle East
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail