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

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 04, 2015
Vincent J. Roscigno
University Bureaucracy as Organized Crime
Paul Street
Bernie Sanders’ Top Five Race Problems: the Whiteness of Nominal Socialism
Herbert Dyer, Jr.
Is White Supremacy a Mental Disorder?
Ramzy Baroud
The Palestinian Bubble and the Burning of Toddler, Ali Dawabsha
Pepe Escobar
Reshuffling Eurasia’s Energy Deck — Iran, China and Pipelineistan
L. Michael Hager
The Battle Over BDS
Eric Draitser
Puerto Rico: Troubled Commonwealth or Debt Colony?
Colin Todhunter
Hypnotic Trance in Delhi: Monsanto, GMOs and the Looting of India’s Agriculture
Benjamin Willis
The New Cubanologos: What’s in a Word?
Matt Peppe
60 Minutes Provides Platform for US Military
Binoy Kampmark
The Turkish Mission: Reining in the Kurds
Eoin Higgins
Teaching Lessons of White Supremacy in Prime-Time: Blackrifice in the Post-Apocalyptic World of the CW’s The 100
Gary Corseri
Gaza: Our Child’s Shattered Face in the Mirror
Robert Dodge
The Nuclear World at 70
Paula Bach
Exit the Euro? Polemic with Greek Economist Costas Lapavitsas
August 03, 2015
Jack Dresser
The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Atomic Era Turns 70, as Nuclear Hazards Endure
Nelson Valdes
An Internet Legend: the Pope, Fidel and the Black President
Robert Hunziker
The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm
Ahmad Moussa
Incinerating Palestinian Children
Greg Felton
Greece Succumbs to Imperialist Banksterism
Binoy Kampmark
Stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership: the Failure of the Hawai’i Talks
Ted Rall
My Letter to Nick Goldberg of the LA Times
Mark Weisbrot
New Greek Bailout Increases the Possibility of Grexit
Jose Martinez
Black/Hispanic/Women: a Leadership Crisis
Victor Grossman
German Know-Nothings Today
Patrick Walker
We’re Not Sandernistas: Reinventing the Wheels of Bernie’s Bandwagon
Norman Pollack
Moral Consequences of War: America’s Hegemonic Thirst
Ralph Nader
Republicans Support Massive Tax Evasion by Starving IRS Budget
Alexander Reid Ross
Colonial Pride and the Killing of Cecil the Lion
Suhayb Ahmed
What’s Happening in Britain: Jeremy Corbyn and the Future of the Labour Party
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington