Congressional Investigator Jack Blum's
|The following text is an electronic reproduction of the statement prepared by Jack Blum for his testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on October 23, 1996|
October 23, 1996
My name is Jack A. Blum. I am a partner in the Washington D.C. law firm of Lobel, Novins & Lamont. From January of 1987 to May 1989 I served as the Special Counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In that capacity I staffed the investigation by the Subcommittee on Narcotics, Terrorism, and International Operations into whether the effort to achieve foreign policy objectives had interfered with law enforcement efforts to control the flow of narcotics into the United States.
I deeply appreciate the Committee's invitation to appear here this morning. The issues before the Committee are at the heart of the unfinished work of post cold war intelligence reform. I hope that there will be a serious public discussion of these issues and that the discussion will lead to a fundamental change in the way the United States deals with covert operations. That change is essential if public confidence in the integrity of the confidential international dealings of the United States government is to be restored.
I will begin by discussing the subcommittee's findings. Then, I will review briefly the history of the relationship between drug trafficking and intelligence operations and finally, I will make some suggestions for further investigation oversight and reform.
The subcommittee's investigation had bipartisan support and could not have been completed without that support. The Subcommittee concluded that the Reagan administration repeatedly subordinated narcotics law enforcement to its anti-communist crusade in Nicaragua which it considered to be more important.
Our investigation focused on the question of whether the Nicaraguan resistance movement - the Contras- were involved in drug trafficking and whether some portion of the United States government was ignoring, or possibly assisting, their trafficking activities. When the public outcry for a Congressional investigation of CIA involvement in drug trafficking arose in response to Gary Webb's articles in the San Jose Mercury, I wanted to say I had been there and done that. There is a detailed Senate report on the subject. It followed a two year investigation which included both open and closed hearings, and depositions.
Before I begin a discussion of the very serious problems we encountered as we tried to investigate and before I discuss the report's conclusions, it is important to make two points.
We found no evidence whatsoever that the African American community was the particular target of a plot to sell crack cocaine. Cocaine has been and continues to be an equal opportunity destroyer. The flood of cocaine that hit the United States in the mid 1980's ruined whites, Latinos, and African-Americans with appalling equality.
In my opinion, the African American community believes that it has been
selected as a target of the cocaine plague because of the way we define
the drug problem. In our society a problem addict who merits public attention
is an addict who has run out of money. People in the inner city run out
of money much more quickly than the stock brokers, entertainers and lawyers
who have the income and the standing to conceal their narcotics habits.
Because the "problem addicts" have been in the inner city, the focus of
law enforcement has been on the inner city. By definition, wherever police
concentrate their efforts there is a crime wave. Police statistics reflect
police activity not the objective reality of where the crimes are occurring.
Mr. Blum has neglected to mention that the laws against crack possession (less pure and first used by inner-city minorities in the 1980's) are vastly more punitive than those for possession of powdered cocaine (more pure, predominantly used by well to-do whites). The racist aspects of these laws have not gone unnoticed. Various jurists, activists and lawyers have decried the disparity in the laws as racist.
The actual impact of the federal statutory disparity is now evident: Even though the majority of cocaine users are white, even though more drug use occurs in a college dormitory than an inner-city neighborhood, the majority of prisoners are African Americans who are serving longer mandatory sentences for drug possession. This trend has flooded prisons to the extent that the U.S.A. hit a milestone by ranking first in incarcerating its citizens, as well as prisons becoming one of our fastest-growing industries. Both are largely attributable to the War on Drugs.
We found no evidence to suggest that people at the highest level of the United States government adopted a policy of supporting the Contras by encouraging drug sales. For the most part the Contras on the ground were forgotten men, short on both supplies and money. The drug trafficking some Contras engaged in went to line their pockets not to help their political cause. In one case Jorge Morales, a drug trafficker, gave money to the Southern front Contras. They knew that the money was drug money and had no qualms about taking it. On another occasion an emissary for the drug cartel offered the United States government $10,000,000 for the Contras in exchange for amnesty for the Colombian traffickers. The approach, which we investigated to the best of our ability, was turned down.
Some witnesses testimonies in the Kerry investigation were deemed "untruthful" - even though the those same witnesses had their testimonies fully corroborated by other witnesses. But the Kerrey investigation often skirted the truely abominable revelations, so leads were not pursued, and DEA agents known to be surveilling contra operations were never called. Congressional power to subpeona was never invoked in many cases, while in the meantime, a DEA agent in Miami was consistently finding traces of drugs on CIA-related airplanes.
There was, however, plenty of evidence that policy makers closed their eyes to the criminal behavior of some of America's allies and supporters in the Contra war. The policy makers ignored their drug dealing, their stealing, their human rights violations. The policy makers allowed them to compensate themselves for helping us by remaining silent in the face of their impropriety and by quietly undercutting the law enforcement and human right agencies that might have caused them difficulty.
|Comments: The Dept. of Justice and the White House interfered in quite a few drug prosecutions of Contra agents|
We were aware of the Contra connection to the West Coast cocaine
trade. When we tried to pursue the investigation, the Justice Department
Criminal Division, then headed by Bill Weld, fought giving us access to
essential records and to witnesses in government custody. I remember a
telephone conversation in which the United States Attorney for Northern
California shouted at us and accused us of being subversive for wanting
the information. The Blandon-Meneses ring was just part of a larger picture.
It was not the sole or even the most import source of cocaine in Los Angeles.
I might add that the Justice Department did everything possible to block
our investigation. It moved prisoners to make them inaccessable, instructed
Justice employees not to talk to us, punished an assistant U.S. Attorney
for passing information to the Subcommittee.
|Mr. Blum says that the 'Blandon-Meneses ring was ...
not the sole or even the most import source of cocaine in Los Angeles.'
This leads to questions as to how he derived this information, when the
L.A. Times documented in 1993 that Freeway Rick, the end-marketer in the
Blandon-Meneses ring, was the 'Johnny Appleseed of Crack.' The Blandon-Meneses
ring moved substantial amounts of cocaine through L.A., so who was he referring
to when he says there were important "source(s) of cocaine in Los Angeles."
Mr. Blum statement subtley begs the question: Was the "The Blandon-Meneses ring ... just part of a larger" Contra-cocaine "picture?" Considering the potential impact that various protected Contra drug pipelines running straight to Southern California would have on cocaine volume, perhaps Mr. Blum is alluding to a larger Contra 'picture' than we can imagine. Is Mr. Blum is suggesting that he investigated an even larger Contra-cocaine system in L.A., but his investigations were blocked by the DoJ? Mr. Blum is no fool, he's not going to say anything directly that would incite the powers-that-be, or for that matter, the general populace.
Since Gary Webb's stories in the San Jose Mercury many people have asked
why they never heard about our investigation. The reason is that we were
the target of a systematic campaign to discredit our witnesses and the
quality of our work. Justice Department officials called the press that
covered our hearings and told them our witnesses were lying. The White
House staff described our work as a "politically motivated attack." Once
we were attacked the press treated the conclusions with caution and downplayed
the testimony of our witnesses.
|Comments: Blum neglects to mention that he and Senator Kerry were walking on thin ice. The committee stopped short from a thorough and exhaustive investigation, and repeatedly went into closed-door sessions when the testimony got too hot. As Lewis Lapham, editor of Harper's Magazine, described the Iran-Contra hearings, the Democrats were "as obsequious as musicians at a mafia wedding."|
Our findings raised issues that needed extensive public discussion.
The involvement of the covert operations side of the intelligence community
with drug traffickers and criminals is a longstanding problem. The willingness
of the foreign policy establishment to subordinate every other priority
in international relations to the crusade against Communism was also a
longstanding problem. We have lived through a period during which priorities
were set on an ideological basis that verged on religious belief rather
than on a genuine assessment of threat. During the same period covert actions
were taken with an eye to short terms results without regard to long term
consequences. We must never let that kind of ideological blindness and
short term vision infect intelligence assessments again.
|Genuine assessment of threat was never a concern of the CIA or the KGB during the Cold War era: they both engaged in 'threat inflation' - that is, LYING to their own governments about the strength of the other side.|
During the 1980's, I could count in the hundreds the number of dead
from drug overdoses and drug wars on the streets of American cities. I
could not find a report of a single death in the United States linked to
hostile action by a Sandinista. During that period I often joked that if
the packages of cocaine had been marked with a hammer and sickle the drug
problem would have been the top priority and might have been solved.
|Comments: Oliver North tried to slap a Sandinista label on the illegal drugs on the street! North tried to frame the Sandistas in a drug sting. At first, the Reagan White House paraded this failed sting operation around as an example of the moral depravity of the Sandistas; but it wasn't long before the sting operation was exposed for the fraud it was.|
A discussion of the relationship between covert operations and
criminal organizations should have been at the heart of the debate on post
cold war reform of intelligence operations. A careful review of the history
of covert operations in the Caribbean and South and Central America shows
a forty year connection between crime and covert operations that has repeated
blown back on the United States. The same history will show that the operations
in the region were, for the most, part moral and political failures. Other
operations in Asia and Europe have had similar consequences - the worst
in the narcotics area.
|Comments: What an understatement! When the CIA, as part of a covert action during the Vietnam war, backed the drug lord Vang Pao in Laos, the volume of heroin coming out of Laos tripled! So it turned out, the CIA's proprietary airline, Air America, was a major means of transporting the guns and the drugs. The drugs flooded South Vietnam, and all manner of deceipt was employed to move the drugs onward to market: hidden in fuel tanks, body bags and various other containers, Laotian heroin enjoyed a protected pipeline straight into air bases on American soil. A Pentagon report on narcotics during the Vietnam war showed that many of the U.S. Army's G.I.'s were hooked on heroin.|
Before turning to the history it is important to understand why criminals have played such a large role in covert activity. Contrary to popular literature and belief, the best covert operators do not lead revolutions or play a direct role in the societies they seek to influence. Rather covert operations depend on building up the role of the elements of the society that support the objectives we want to achieve. We look on the elements that support us as assets.
As a rule, criminal organizations offer covert operations many advantages. Criminals are used to staying out of the reach of the law. They have identified the corrupt elements of the government and suborn them. They know the territory. They are disciplined, flexible, and open to the profit motive. If you want a illegal job done, and are willing to pay, they are ready to go to work.
For criminal organizations, participating in covert operations offers
much more than money. They may get a voice in selecting the new government.
They may get a government that owes them for help in coming to power, They
may be able to use their connections with the United States government
to enhance their political power at home and to wave off the efforts of
the American law enforcement community.
|Comments: Blum has said something quite significant
here. When Blum says that narco-traffickers will 'use their connections
with the United States government to enhance their political power at home,'
he's also saying the converse: The U.S. government uses the narcotics trade
to gain political power in Latin America and other regions.
The CIA functionally gains control of governments corrupted by criminal narco-trafficking, and can exert influence by leveraging narco-militarists and corrupted politicians. It's fascinating that Blum basically described the Opium Wars of the 19th century.
The upshot of Blum's statement is this: Narco-colonialism is alive and well and residing centrally at CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia!
Given the talents criminals offer and the natural incentives they have for helping, I can understand why people in covert operations would be tempted to enlist their assistance. If I were sent overseas to risk my life doing things illegal in the country I was sent to, I would want skilled criminals to help me do my job.
The problem is how to prevent criminal allies from becoming an albatross.
How can they be kept from becoming a permanent fixture once the need for
them has passed? I believe that if they cannot be neutralized the people
planning the operation have the obligation to consider the long term consequences
|Comments: Blum is being ever-so polite here. OF COURSE
the people planning the operation have considered the long-term consequences!
Blum is suggesting that the CIA's black-ops specialists would be naive
as to the outcome of their actions.
Nearly two dozen books have documented the CIA's heroin-related machinations in Laos and the resultant soaring drug addiction problem amongst G.I.'s. It doesn't take a genius to tell you that if the C.I.A., D.I.A., or other intelligence agencies move to functionally or deliberately protect specific drug pipelines from interdiction, the resulting increase in drug volume will see a commensurate increase in drug addiction in the U.S.
Narcomilitarists like Noriega and narco-facilitators in the El Salvadoran, Guatelmalen, Honduran and Mexican militaries have become 'permanent fixtures,' but, alas, they're now albatrosses because the truth is finally leaking out.
Frequently, we have had to train sympathetic people in countries which are the target of our actions, the techniques of clandestine operation. The textbook for a good covert operator is, by definition, the textbook for a first class criminal. Spies learn to take on new identities, shake tails, launder money and blend into the landscape. Participants in covert paramilitary operations have to smuggle weapons and supplies, communicate clandestinely, handle explosives and to conceal the structure of the covert organization. These skills are identical to the skills needed by large scale criminal and terrorist organizations.
From time to time we have trained groups to run a covert operation.
When the operation is over we have had a "disposal" problem. The difficulty
has been finding safe and useful work for people trained in the arts of
killing, smuggling, and bomb making. Our disposal efforts have been only
marginally successful and covert operations alumni have peopled the ranks
of criminal organizations for decades.
|Comments: Yes, and these alumni seem to creep back into future covert operations.|
The first marriage of obvious marriage of convenience was the Lansky-Luciano
cooperation with the Office of Naval Intelligence during World War II.
Meyer Lansky brokered a deal for Lucky Luciano that allowed Luciano to
be freed on parole and deported to Italy in exchange for intelligence information
and protection against axis spies on the docks of New York. Luciano delivered
and he was freed to resume his criminal career in Sicily. Part of that
career included the post war reintroduction of heroin to the United States.
|Comments: I'm sure the Congressmen knew the rest of the Meyer Lansky story: Lansky settled in Cuba, where his mob activities (prostitution, gambling and narcotics) played a central role in supporting the Batista regime. Finally the Cuban people revolted, and Fidel Castro came to power. Escaping Castro's rise to power, the Lansky mob moved on to run rackets in Miami.|
That was followed by covert assistance to the organized criminal gangs in the port of Marseilles. The gangs opposed the Communist unions and helped ensure that France stayed in the non-communist world. The gangs also went on to become the "French connection" in the heroin trade. We worked with the Japanese Yakuza to contain the communists in Japan after World War II. The Yakuza became a major source of methamphetamine in Hawaii.
Khun Sa, the well known leader of the heroin business in the golden triangle succeeded in the heroin business because of American and French support for remnants of the defeated Kuomintang Chinese army that fled across the border to Burma when Mao took over and the rest of the nationalists went to Taiwan. We are still living with the resulting heroin problem even though our ally has just retired from the trade.
To quote Al McCoy:
In retrospect, the entire Burma operation of the 1950s appears as one of the most dismal episodes in the history of the CIA. At the most basic level, the KMT's rag-tag invasion was easily repulsed by Yunnan provincial militia after an advance of only sixty miles, thus failing in its main mission of drawing regular Chinese forces away from the Korean front. Although this disaster contributed to the abolition of the responsible CIA affiliate, the Office of Policy Coordination, the agency's internal review failed to grasp the full implications of the Burma operation. Drawing upon an interview with CIA veteran Tom Braden, one historian explained that the CIA would not admit that the KMT campaign had become "a drug producing operation" and later "hatched elaborate plans for the army, knowing full well they were engaged in nonsense but not prepared to jeopardize careers ... by admitting to so monumental a mistake." By failing to repudiate the KMT and its involvement in the opium trade, the CIA had, in effect, created precedent that would allow later covert operations to become similarly compromised. 
The story of the connection between our covert allies in the Vietnam war especially the hill tribes in Laos -- and the drug trade, has been documented in Al McCoy's book "The politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia." It has also been mocked in the movie "Air America". Returning Vietnam veterans brought a heroin epidemic home with them.
More recently our efforts in Afghanistan have helped turn the region into one of the world's largest producers and exporters of heroin. The war focused the Afghan farmers on their best crop - opium poppy. The poppy requires little attention. Opium paste is light weight is very valuable and can be moved to market over high mountains on the backs of donkeys. It is the perfect crop for people fighting a guerrilla war. That covert" operation has also produced a bumper crop of terrorists trained by us. They turned against us and everything Western the minute the Russians left Afghanistan. These folks brought us the World Trade Center, bombings in Paris, Cairo, Bombay, Saudi Arabia, and on two Air India flights. There have been assassinations of Americans here and in Karachi. If there was a "disposal" effort in Afghanistan it was pretty dismal.
The Latin American story is equally depressing. The Bay of Pigs left the United States with both a disposal problem and with criminal organizations that thought they had enhanced their power by "helping" with the problem of Fidel Castro. The CIA ran an enormous operation in Miami, JMWave, to keep the Bay of Pigs veterans busy. Despite that effort Bay of Pigs veterans turned up in affairs such as the Watergate burglary and the murder of Orlando Letelier on the streets of Washington.
During the Carter administration, when human rights became a public
priority, we quietly encouraged other countries to act as our proxy. The
Subcommittee took remarkable testimony from a former civilian employee
of the Argentine military government, Leandro Sanchez-Reisse who described
their anti-communist efforts in detail. He told the Subcommittee that the
Argentine military was responsible for the so called cocaine coup in Bolivia.
He said the Argentine military intelligence people used the profits from
their control of the Bolivian cocaine market to finance an anticommunist
"battalion" which operated all over the continent. He told the Subcommittee
that he set up a money laundering operation in Fort Lauderdale to provide
funds for the covert battalion. He claimed that our government assisted
|Here's Blum's tie-in with the cocaine trade and CIA enterprises. When top-DEA agent Michael Levine's operation moved against Bolivian narco-militarists, the CIA intervened and stopped the DEA investigation. Blum is also blurring history a bit: Carter's CIA chief, Stansfield Turner, fired not just Manuel Noriega, but 800 CIA operatives with shady pasts. The CIA, institutionally, was angry with Carter's reform and pro-human rights efforts: In their minds, Carter gave away the Panama Canal (later regained on Dec. 25, 1991, 5 days before Carter's treaty with Panama would be consumated and Noriega would take control of it) and the U.S.A.'s long-standing proxy dictatorship in Nicaragua (as Pres. Lydon Johnson described the brutal dictator Anastasio Somoza, 'our son of a bitch in Central America'). Carter's firing of those 800 CIA operatives meant that U.S. foriegn policy went 'independent' and came to form 'proxy' enterprises all of its own.|
I should remind this Committee that the Argentines were the ones who first trained and supported the Contra resistance movement.
Sanchez-Reisse said that he believed that one of the reasons the Argentine
generals launched the Falklands war was because they believed were would
support their cause in return for all the help they had given us. If that
was what they thought the consequences were tragic..
|Comments: Here Blum hints at the scope of what Iran-Contra investigator Lawrence Walsh coined: 'the Enterprise.' Chile had suffered under the brutal CIA-sponsored regime of General Pinochet, which Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger authorized. Argentina's experience with military dictatorship followed a similar course. Ultimately the Argentine military destroyed itself in the same way that two other U.S.-sponsored dictators who suffered from delusions of grandeur: Panama's Manuel Noriega and Iraq's Saddam Hussein.|
General Noriega was on our payroll even though it seems almost everyone knew he was in the drug business. According to published accounts he was paid roughly $200,000 a year by the CIA. When efforts were made to seize his funds at BCCI as proceeds of criminal transactions he argued all he wanted back was his CIA pay. For four long years we ignored his drug trafficking because he was helping us with our Nicaraguan problem. The high-or low-point of the relationship is memorialized by Ollie North in his notebooks. The General, Ollie recorded, was willing to assassinate the entire Sandinista leadership, if the U.S. would only help him clean up his drug burdened image. Col. North's response was not to call the police. Instead he reported to Admiral Poindexter who ask North if he could tone down the offer of help.
We had similar problems in Haiti where intelligence "sources" of ours
in the Haitian military had turned their facilities over to the drug cartels.
Instead of putting pressure on the rotten leadership of the military, we
defended them. We held our noses and looked the other way as they and their
criminal friends in the United States distributed cocaine in Miami, Philadelphia
and New, York.
|Comments: Held our noses? We had no reason to install Haitian narco-militarists in place of the democratically-elected President Jean Francois Aristide, but the CIA did it anyway! Narco-militarists will resort to the same murderous tactics as any corrupt dictator historically sponsored by the CIA. And if the CIA trains and tolerates death squads to kill Mayan Amerindians, why should the CIA view drug running any less favorably? After all, the drug running is the lesser of the two evils: drug trafficking and death-squad murder fall on different points on the line of state-sponsored criminality. But butchering entire villages is, after all, far worse than establishing drug economies.|
Honduras was a key country for the Contras. Their base of operation
was in Honduras and most of their supplies came through the country. When
Ramon Matta Ballesteros, a notorious drug trafficker, associated with the
gang that killed DEA agent Camerana, took refuge in Honduras, our response
was to close the DEA office there. The Subcommittee took testimony from
the head of the Honduran DEA office who was shifted to Guatemala. He told
us the move was inexplicable because all the real drug problems were in
Honduras. He believed the office was closed to protect the corrupt officers
who were helping us.
|Comments: By protecting the 'corrupt officers,' the CIA, as usual, protected the cocaine pipeline.|
In sum, we "paid" our friends in Central and South America by not interfering
with their criminal business. The long term price in my view was the solidification
of the power of the drug cartels and their transformation into wealthy
sophisticated international business organizations. I seriously doubt that
this consequence was considered or whether the policy was debated in these
terms at any level of government.
[Again, Blum cannot bring himself to believe that those in the CIA who organize these schemes actually understand the 'consequences' that been obvious since the Vietnam era. By allowing the cartel's transformation into sophisticated international business organizations, nearly every republic in the region has becoming intractibly immeshed in the narcotics economy. By manipulating drug transshipment nodes, narco-profits, narco-militarists and politicians, the CIA has incredible control in the region. Good narco-facilitators gain more power and wealth. Narco-facilitators who act in defiance of U.S. interests, like ex-Pres. Salinas of Mexico or Gen. Manuel Noriega, find themselves suddenly exposed, deposed and either exiled or rotting in prison.]
The CIA's support of death-squads and brutal governments is well known and documented. Narco-militarists will resort to the same murderous tactics as any corrupt dictator historically sponsored by the CIA. But if the CIA trains and tolerates death squads to kill Mayan Amerindians, why should the CIA view drug running any less favorably? After all, the drug running is the lesser of the two evils: drug trafficking and death-squad murder fall on different points on the line of state-sponsored criminality. But butchering entire villages is far worse than establishing drug economies.
Blum passes over the point that U.S. citizens have "paid" the CIA's Contra army in dollars and drug addiction. By "paying" our friends with protected drug pipelines, the effects should have been immediately obvious: increased volumes of narcotics and increased drug addiction. The consequences of protected drug pipelines are well known: the use of opium warlords in fight the war in Laos resulted in wildly escalated addictions in the U.S.
But even though a street dealer could anticipate the consequences, Blum claims that he doubts anyone in our government ever contemplated the outcome of their policies; frankly, Blum is trying to appease his audience of powerful U.S. Senators by not suggesting that their august institution might have been, in some way, complicit or involved in these outrageous policies.
As our investigation progressed we became aware of the connections between
the intelligence community and the law enforcement agencies. We heard that
CIA people insisted on screening all of DEA's informants. We heard that
CIA people sat in on witness interviews and trial preparations in important
drug cases. We were told there was machinery through which the intelligence
community could get the Customs Service to pass on inspecting both in and
outbound flights. On several occasions we documented Ollie North's intervention
in pending court matters to help our "friends".
|Comments: Blum is talking about a our government establishing structural facilities to encourage narco-trafficking! But Blum doesn't seem quite willing to assert that this constitutes direct White House involvement in drug trafficking, does he? Perhaps we should redirect that question to ex-DEA agents Micheal Levine and Celle Castillo: These two highly regarded experts contend that the 'machinery' and 'intervention(s)' are, in fact, prosecutable as aiding and abetting criminal activities as well as criminal obstruction of justice.|
At the same time the charge that someone was a drug trafficker was used
to ruin people who were in disfavor. Ron Martin, former head of the U.S.
Mil Group in Nicaragua, was called a drug trafficker. North told people
his arms warehouse had been funded by cocaine money. In fact Martin's problem
was that he was prepared to sell weapons to the Contras at a much lower
price than the Secord supply system. The attack on Martin worked and he
was forced out of the arms business with a severe loss.
|Comments: In the same sense, honest politicians in the narco-republics get forced out of office or assassinated. Same goes for drug smugglers who try to be independent of the CIA: they're eliminated by the DEA and CIA: While the Medellin cartel was selected for demonization, the CIA station chief in Bogota denied the existance of the mysteriously protected Cali cartel (From a 1990 episode of 60 Minutes). The CIA has shown little interest in supporting democratic institutions in Latin America; nearly every time there's been an 'outbreak' of democracy in the Americas, the CIA has acted to install military dictators. Political control is strongest when narco-militarists have a monopoly, and democracy sleeps well in a narcocracy. Small drug runners in the U.S. are in prison, but the big traffickers who have consistently cooperated with the U.S. government are now either free or paid informants. This, again, parallels the pattern of the 19th century Opium Wars: Chinese smugglers, attempting to circumvent the import duties or commodity monopolies of the European imperialists were summarily tried and executed. With narco-colonialism, of course you get narco-mercantilism.|
This committee should now do what we could not get done. You should get clean copy of Ollie North's Notebooks and make the whole thing public. You should get the complete record of intelligence interference with drug cases during the period of the war and make it public.
You should also consider the alternatives to covert action. As a nation we should be doing much more on the affirmative side. More foreign assistance, more public diplomacy, more support for the education of future foreign political leaders and more public support for the people who support us. Covert operations, especially those that require the services of drug dealers, should be a matter of absolute last resort in moments of national desperation if they are to be used at all.
After all I have said it should be clear that oversight has been hopelessly inadequate. When the CIA was asked about this in the past they produced lame denials and examples of bad apples they cut loose. That is not enough. The responsible committees must look at the whole policy and ask whether the people who proposed the operation fairly described the potential harmful impact of their plans. If they did not they should be held accountable.
If you go to bed with dogs you are likely to get up with fleas. If you
empower criminals because empowering them is helpful, the criminals are
sure to turn on you next. The people who planned covert operations should
have known that and should have warned the people who approve covert operations.
|Comments: Colonialism and it's malevolent child, Neo-colonialism, are about the whole-sale enslavement and looting of cultures and peoples. Neo-colonialism is as criminal an enterprise as any Latin American cocaine cartel. Invariably, abuse of power on this scale knows no borders and impacts human lives on U.S. soil as well as foreign.|
The most important loss which came as a result of the Central American
"overt/covert" war was a loss of public trust in the honesty and integrity
of the people who run the country's clandestine operations. The measure
of that is how ready the public is to believe Freeway Ricky's fable about
his role as an arm of the CIA in promoting crack in Los Angeles. Ricky
deserves life in prison for what he did to his own community. The CIA did
not make him do it and the profits from his deals went into his pocket.
|Comments: This is Blum's closing sound bite. It's hard
to imagine what fable Blum is talking about: First of all, Freeway Rick
(who really isn't at the center of the discussion, anyway) claims he never
knew his profits went to the Contras. Freeway Rick's only contention is
that justice should be meted out equally: Rick is little more than a vengeful
opportunist: he'd prefer to go free, but he'd settle for his Contra collaborators
rotting in prison along with him. I would tend to agree that his Contra
suppliers should either receive equal or greater sentences than his. As
far as the public's willingness to believe "Freeway Ricky's fable" is concerned,
the black community is reeling from Freeway Rick's role in the crack epidemic
- they argue no brief on behalf of Freeway Rick. For Blum to suggest that
the public is too willing believe in Freeway Rick's 'fable' is to attempt
to denegrate fully-justified suspicions about our government.
No, Blum is trying to appease the Senators (Sen. Arlen 'Magic Bullet' Specter, for one) who granted him their audience. For what it's worth, the English Empire didn't make Chinese addicts smoke East India Tea Co. opium in their pipes, but it sure as hell enjoyed the profits, didn't it?
[End of Statement]
 War on Drugs; Studies in the Failure of U.S. Narcotics
Policy, Edited by Alfred W. McCoy & Alan A. Block, Westview Press,
Boulder, San Francisco & Oxford, 1992, at pg. 259.