From............. TIME magazine

21 October, 1996

Letters to Editor section

THE SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS HAS charged that the CIA possibly cooperated with the Nicaraguan 'contras' to flood America's black ghettos with cocaine to get money to fund the 1980s war against the Sandinista government [DIVIDING LINE, Sept. 30].

These accusations are more than a problem affecting just black America and the CIA. Senator John Kerry's committee reported in the 1980s that the CIA, the FBI and the DEA knew of the contras' drug dealings, yet drug traffickers continued to be paid by the U.S. State Department, "in some cases after the traffickers had been indicted by federal law-enforcement agencies on drug charges, in others while traffickers were under active investigation by these same agencies."

Tragically, the U.S. Justice Department was slow to respond to the threat. But if all these federal agencies knew of the drug trade in the '80s, why didn't they expose and stop it?

The drug trade posed a far greater threat to the U.S. than the leftist Sandinista government ever did. Despite recent CIA and Justice Department vows to reinvestigate, how likely is it that these agencies will produce important new discoveries that would publicly expose their prior inadequacies? You are right to call for an independent investigation.

Gary L. Aguilar San Francisco

DURING THE ORIGINAL IRAN-CONTRA hearings the CIA defended itself by saying it didn't know Ollie North was running a private air flotilla to illegally supply the contras. And now we are to believe that the agency didn't know planes were coming back loaded with cocaine that addicted Americans? Does such astonishing, habitual ignorance by our top "intelligence" agency show anything but gross incompetence and wasted funding? Maybe the CIA was distracted by its primary mission: not knowing the Soviet Union was going down the tubes. Surely we can find another group that does not know all this—much cheaper.

John Burke Bayville, New York