"The Contra-run drug network opened the first conduit between Colombia's cocaine cartels and L.A.'s black neighborhoods." [sidebox]

From......... National Catholic Reporter

6 September, 1996 page 20


For five decades, the CIA has defended foreign dictators, many with drug ties, to allegedly further U.S. interests. It has done business with - and protected - criminals and murderers to uphold governments that terrorize their peoples. It has contemptuously subverted this nation's Constitution, lying to Congress when it felt necessary to protect its perverted, self-proclaimed patriotism. As a result, tens of thousands of CIA victims lie buried in poor Central American, Asian and African nations.

Now we learn there is more criminal activity here-far more and at home. The CIA, we learn, is responsible for lighting the fuse to the explosive U.S. "crack" epidemic that has engulfed our cities in violence and ravaged countless young lives.

San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb has detailed a disgraceful alliance of drug dealers, Los Angeles youth gangs and the CIA operatives who backed the Nicaraguan Contras.

For almost a decade beginning in the early 1980s, a drug ring based in the San Francisco Bay Area sold thousands of pounds of cut-rate cocaine to Los Angeles street gangs and used the money to buy arms for the Contras, the so-called freedom fighters that Lt. Col. Oliver North all but canonized during the Reagan administration.

As the Mercury News reported, the Contra-run drug network opened the first conduit between Colombia's notorious cocaine cartels and L.A.'s black neighborhoods. The flood of the white powder helped to make crack affordable in poor communities where its use eventually became epidemic.

Profits from crack sales made it easier for the street gangs to buy assault weapons. Violence escalated not only in Los Angeles but wherever the drugs spread throughout the nation.

As the Mercury News has stated: "It's impossible to believe that the Central Intelligence Agency didn't know about the Contras' fund-raising activities in Los Angeles, considering that the agency was bankrolling, recruiting and essentially running the Contra operation. ......

"No doubt this country's crack epidemic would have occurred without the Contras. But the CIA-Contra story can only feed long-standing rumors in black communities that the U.S. government'created 'the crack cocaine epidemic to kill and imprison African--Americans and otherwise wreak havoc in inner cities."

To understand the context of the CIA's involvement here it helps to recall the agency's nefarious and subversive history as well as its longstanding links to drug profiteering.

In 1947 Congress passed the National Security Act, creating the National Security Council and the CIA. A small clause allowed operatives to subvert constitutional law to conduct covert operations in the interest of national security.

During the 1950s, the CIA collaborated with the Corsican mobs of Marseilles, France, to fight communist influence on city shipping docks. This collaboration strengthened the syndicate, which supplied most of U.S. heroin for the next two decades.

Under Truman, the CIA supported the defeated Nationalist Chinese Kuomintang in northern Burma, now Myanmar. While a military failure, the Nationalist Chinese used CIA logistical aid to transform northern Myanmnar into the largest opium producer in the world.

During the 1960s, the CIA reportedly recruited Mafia drug traffickers in its efforts to assassinate Cuba's Fidel Castro. During the clandestine war in Laos, the CIA allied itself with the opium-growing Hmong tribe. Using CIA air logistics for opium transport, these allies became major heroin producers. CIA operatives, who Iater resurfaced during the Nicaraguan Contra war during the 1980s, were experienced in using drugs to support covert operations.

By the end of 1970, 30,000 U.S. servicemen were addicted, and Southeast Asian opium gradually captured a third of the U.S. heroin market. Seventy percent of heroin entering the United States and Western Europe originated from areas controlled by CIA mercenaries.

In the 1970s, the CIA developed a relationship with Manuel Noriega, head of Panama's intelligence service, despite evidence of Noriega's involvement in drug trafficking. Noriega remained on the CIA payroll through the l980s.

In the 1980s, the CIA supported Afghan rebels [Mujahedeen] through Pakistan, supplying more than a billion dollars in arms over seven years to the Mujahedeen, which, in turn, gained other financing from a burgeoning Afghani opium trade. Pakistan, where Afghani opium was manufactured into heroin, supplied almost three-fourths of the world heroin market.

It is by no means news to hear that thc CIA has been breaking laws and bankrolling activities with illegal drug money. What, then, is the greater crime? The CIA's drug-funded antics or a succession of U.S. administrations that fail to reign in this wayward agency?

As we stated in an April 26 NCR editorial that considered the CLA's actions in Guatemala over the decades, the time has come to "abolish the damned thing."