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maynard Show full post »
For more information contact:
Tamara Feinstein
(202) 994-7219 / tfeins7i@gwu.edu
November 22, 2000: To mark the resignation of Alberto Fujimori from his post as President of Peru, the National Security Archive, a non-governmental foreign policy documentation center at George Washington University, today posted on the World Wide Web a collection of declassified U.S. documents on Vladimiro Montesinos – referred to as “Fujimori’s Rasputin.” The documents show that as early as October 1990, U.S. army intelligence analysts were already referring to Fujimori as “in the hip pocket of the National Intelligence Service (Servicio Inteligencia Nacional –SIN),” and as “particularly influenced by Vladimiro Montesinos.” In a report titled “Who is Controlling Whom” high-level Peruvian army officers described to U.S. intelligence analysts this “extraordinary…situation in which the intelligence apparatus is in effect running the state.” These early remarks are of particular note, since the current presidential crisis stems directly from scandals surrounding Montesinos, who is reportedly in hiding somewhere in Peru while Fujimori sent in his resignation from Japan.

May 10, 2001: The National Security Archive recently received responses to FOIA requests we sent out earlier this year on Vladimiro Montesinos. These new documents focus on Montesinos’ early career and links with the United States in the 1970s. These documents deal with the unauthorized trip to the United States that Montesinos made in September 1976 and his later arrest, detention and cashiering from the army in 1977.

Click here to see the 1970s documents

Another new document focuses on the aftermath of the failed November 1992 coup attempt made by the military against President Fujimori. The document alleges that Montesinos supervised and participated in torture sessions attempting to force coup plotters to name opposition politicians as co-conspirators.

Click here to see the 1992 document

State Department
Human Rights
Reports on Peru







The documents posted today were obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests made by journalist Jeremy Bigwood, who earlier this year donated them to the Archive. These documents shed some light on Montesinos’ involvement in human rights violations and corruption scandals, but also demonstrate the amount of information being currently withheld on this subject by the U.S. government. According to Peter Kornbluh, who analyzes Latin America at the Archive, the Clinton Administration "could, and should, make a major contribution to the truth of Montesinos’s career, as well as to the future of Peruvian democracy, by expeditiously declassifying the U.S. holdings on Montesinos." Kornbluh said that U.S. agencies have vast amounts of secret documentation that would serve as essential evidence in any proceedings against Montesinos for human rights abuses and graft. The Archive, which has led campaigns to declassify secret U.S. documents on Guatemala, Chile, El Salvador and elsewhere in Latin America, said it would press for full disclosure of hundreds of U.S. records on Montesinos, including CIA documents on covert relations with President Fujimori's disgraced intelligence chieftain. The Archive is set to file dozens of Freedom of Information Act requests on Montesinos and his ties to the United States.
An independent non-governmental research institute and library located at the George Washington University, the Archive collects and publishes declassified documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The Archive won the 1999 George Polk Award, one of U.S. journalism’s top prizes, for – in the words of the citation – “piercing the self-serving veils of government secrecy, guiding journalists in search for the truth and informing us all.” The Archive’s recent campaigns on Guatemala and Chile have led to the declassification of tens of thousands of documents. In the case of Guatemala, these document were used to support the work of the human rights investigations of the U.N. Historical Clarification Commission (CEH).

(There are more documents in the Peru collection available at our offices. For further information, please contact Tamara Feinstein, Research Associate for the Peru Project, at (202) 994-7219 or tfeins7i@gwu.edu.)

Document 1:
Army Intelligence and Threat Analysis Center, Counterintelligence Periodic Summary [Extract], Who is Controlling Whom?, October 23, 1990, Secret, 3 pp.
This document written at the beginning of President Fujimori’s administration, already implies that Vladimiro Montesinos is controlling the government. It reports that Montesinos first ingratiated himself to Fujimori by defending Mrs. Fujimori in a court case revolving around shady real estate deals and that he provided advice to Fujimori on how to conduct his presidential campaign. According to the document, a group of retired military officers have already come forward to highlight the dangers of Montesinos’ influence. These generals insist that, “the Peruvian CIA cannot dominate the Peruvian state,” and imply the army might “intervene and ‘decapitate’ the intelligence structure at some point.”

Document 2:
Army Intelligence and Threat Analysis Center, Counterintelligence Periodic Summary [Extract], Peru: Does Fujimori’s Unofficial Advisor Control the Peruvian National Intelligence Community?, July 27, 1991, Secret, 3 pp.
While Fujimori insists Montesinos is merely his personal legal advisor, Montesinos is clearly more than that. This document suggests that Montesinos has influenced high presidential appointments in the civilian and military sectors of the government. In addition, this report notes that Peruvian General Luis Palomino Rodriguez warned the U.S. defense attaché that Montesinos had intentions to frustrate U.S-Peruvian counter-drug efforts.
Document 3:
May 10, 2001
Origin Unknown, Peru: Military Unease Growing, December 23, 1992, Classification Unknown, 1 pp.
NOTE: This document is in Adobe PDF format
The Department of Defense’s Joint Intelligence Command released this document on April 5, 2001 in response to a FOIA request made by Jeremy Bigwood. This document focuses on the aftermath of the failed November 1992 coup attempt made by the military against President Fujimori. The document reveals growing discontent within the military over the treatment of the coup plotters. The Peruvian Army appears “rife” with rumors that several coup plotters have been tortured and have been transferred to the civilian prison “Canto Grande”, due to fears that armed forces sympathizers would help them escape if they were placed in military prison. Vladimiro Montesinos reportedly supervised torture sessions attempting to force coup plotters to name opposition politicians as co-conspirators, and he is accused of delivering some of the blows himself. The document notes that while the Army has officially denied torture allegations, “the use of torture is plausible.”
Document 4:
U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Army General Denies Providing Information on La Cantuta to Robles, June 1, 1993, Secret, 5 pp.
General Rodolfo Robles Espinoza, once the third most powerful man in the Peruvian army, based part of his claims that General Commander of the Army Nicolás de Bari Hermoza Rios and Montesinos were involved in the creation and operation of a death squad on alleged conversations with one time head of the Army Intelligence Directorate, General Willy Chirinos. According to Robles, during his brief tenure at army intelligence, Chirinos learned of the existence of a death squad under the direction of Vladimiro Montesinos. This death squad was responsible for the massacres at La Cantuta and Barrios Altos. Fearing that the existence of a death squad would inevitably embarrass the army, Chirinos urged that it be disbanded. Montesinos, however, ordered that it remain intact. Robles goes on to claim that Chirinos was dismissed as head of army intelligence after making this recommendation. Chirinos, in statements published in Lima newspapers denies that he spoke to Robles about La Cantuta, or the existence of a death squad connected with Montesinos. The large section excised at the end of this document might possibly reveal embassy commentary on the validity of these claims.

Document 5:
DEA Report of Investigation, Corrupt Officials, Sensitive, August 27, 1996, 1 p.
The Drug Enforcement Agency begins investigations into accusations by drug trafficker Demetrio Chavez-Penaherra (aka “Vaticano”) that Montesinos accepted $50,000 a month in bribes. This document notes that Montesinos was a well-known defense lawyer for narco-traffickers before becoming Fujimori’s advisor. This document not only reveals that the DEA was investigating Montesinos for these specific charges, but that they also had a previous file on him prior to this investigation.

Document 6:
Army Intelligence and Threat Analysis Center, Counterintelligence Periodic Summary [Extract], Peruvian Intelligence Service Accused of Political Espionage, December 16, 1996, Secret, 3 pp.
This document describes an overseas SIN intelligence network, managed by Vladimiro Montesinos and staffed by 17 retired military officers, whose objective is to monitor the activities of opposition elements abroad. This network is active in Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, South Korea and the US and responds directly to “presidential requirements” including “weapons acquisitions and disinformation”.

Document 7:
U.S. Southern Command Information Paper, Purpose: To Inform the [Commander-in-Chief] on the Validity of General Robles’s Allegations against Montesinos, January 6, 1997, Classification Unknown, 1 p.
This document once again exposes allegations regarding Montesinos’s relation to the “La Colina” death squad, which employs tactics of torture and extra-judicial executions. It also notes that Montesinos has been compared to sinister figures such as “Rasputin, Darth Vadar, Torquemada and Cardinal Richelieu.”

Document 8:
U.S. Southern Command Biographic Sketch, Vladimiro Montesinos Torres, August 5, 1996, Classification Unknown, 2 pp.
This is the full version of the heavily excised document used as a header for this briefing book. It clearly reveals the large amount of material already being withheld from the public.
Return to Electronic Briefing Books

Retun to National Security Archive Main Page

Vladirimo Montesinos Reader

Alberto Fujimori on the campaign trail
Source: Thomas Muller
Alejandro Toledo campaigning in Arequipa, April 2001

Digging into the Dirt

Here are some reports from the National Security Archive about the ugly tactics of Montesinos, Fujimori's blind trust and the human rights abuses of the military, reports of which found their way into U.S. government documents.

http://www.narconews.com/montesinosgroup.htmlMay 22, 2001

Narco News 2001

Citigroup &

Montesinos, Inc.

"Private Banking" for Montesinos Family

Protection for U.S. Favored Drug Traffickers

The Selective White Collar Drug War

Special to The Narco News Bulletin

By Al Giordano

May 22, 2001

An investigation by the daily La Republica of Peru revealed that among the clients of Citibank's controversial "Private Banking" program was found the wife and two daughters of Peruvian strongman-turned-fugitive Vladimiro Montesinos.

As recently as 1998, Citibank is found on the Montesinos clan's money-laundering route of more than $18 million U.S. dollars, according to La Republica.

That year, Maria Trinidad Becerra Ramirez, wife of Montesinos, and their two daughters, Samantha and Silvana Montesinos Torres, ordered a complex routing of $18,643,276 dollars through the following banks: Luxembourg Societe Anonyme; Midland Bank Public Lmt.; The Royal Bank of Scottland-U.K; Schweizerische Volks Bank Zurich; Bank of America National Trust & Savings Association; Popular Bank of Florida (today, BAC Florida Bank, branch in Buffalo N.Y); Comerica Bank USA; Unicredito (Italy); Royal Bank of Canada; Midstate Bank & Trust Co (Washington); Union National Bank & Trust Co.; Banco Paribas (France); Weston Compagnie de Finance Et D'investissement(Suisse); and Citibank Private Bank.

Citibank Private Bank conducts Private Banking for wealthy clients. As SUNY Binghamton professor James Petras, a global expert on money laundering, explained in La Jornada of Mexico City last week (and published in English on The Narco News Bulletin):

"Private Banking is a sector of a bank which caters to extremely wealthy clients ($1 million deposits and up). The big banks charge customers a fee for managing their assets and for providing the specialized services of the private banks. Private Bank services go beyond the routine banking services and include investment guidance, estate planning, tax assistance, off-shore accounts, and complicated schemes designed to secure the confidentiality of financial transactions. The attractiveness of the "Private Banks" (PB) for money laundering is that they sell secrecy to the dirty money clients."

Montesinos certainly fits the profile of an "extremely wealthy client" who needed secrecy. But by 1998 it was well-known even to casual observers of Peru politics that Montesinos, an advisor to then-president Alberto Fujimori who controlled the feared state security apparatus, had frequently and publicly been accused of involvement in embezzlement, corrupt activities, narco-trafficking and grave acts of torture and violations of human rights.

Still, the appearance, specifically, of Citibank Private Bank on this money-laundering trail suggests that none of those accusations concerned Citibank, arguably the most powerful bank on the planet.

In fact, prior to that 1998 adventure in laundering $18 million dollars by the Montesinos family, Citibank had instructed its bankers to keep a special vigilance over Latin American political leaders, reports Money Laundering Alert:

"In September 1997, in the aftermath of the scandal over how it handled the stolen fortune of Raul Salinas de Gortari, brother of the former Mexican president, Citibank adopted a written policy that established "special criteria for approval of accounts for public figures." It requires various levels of approval, reporting and the maintenance of special records, including "Opening Diary Notes."

The La Republica investigation, published last November, revealed that Citbank International's offices in Great Britain held $322,720 - nearly a third of a million dollars - for a key Montesinos ally in the Peruvian military: General Luis Delgado de La Paz. And that this deposit, too, was made after the new "special criteria" was enacted by Citibank for accounts of public figures:

"Sources confrm that in Latino bank there were documents that confirmed those deposits, made in 1998… Delgado de La Paz is the title holder of two accounts, one in Citibank International, in London, for $322,720 dollars, and another in Credit Suisse, for $188,200 dollars."

De La Paz had been in the news in 1998 - the same year he made the deposit - in Peru after Montesinos promoted him to the logistical command of the Peruvian military.

In mid-2000, due to the reluctance of the Fujimori regime in Peru to back the $1.3 million Plan Colombia military intervention in neighboring Colombia, U.S. officials turned against the dictator they had helped to install, had favored and protected for eight years prior. It was Peru correspondent Peter Gorman who first suggested in the January 1, 2001 edition of The Narco News Bulletin, that the downfall of Fujimori and his enforcer Montesinos was a "bloodless coup" engineered by Washington and Langley not because of their drug trafficking activities or gross human rights violations, but because they would not go along with the Plan Colombia program.

A secret videotape transcribed and made public on May 14th of this year by La Republica in the Peru capital of Lima, and translated to English by Narco News this week, precisely confirmed that rift between the Peruvian and U.S. officials.
Montesinos had made thousands of secret videotapes of meetings he had with Peruvian leaders and U.S. officials, many of which are in his control even while he hides as an international fugitive, which explains the reluctance of officials in both countries to capture him; last Fall, when Montesinos escaped to Panama, he released a photograph of himself in front of some of those videos, as a warning of what might become public upon his capture.

In the "Vladi-Video #1487," made on April 21, 1999, Montesinos explains to a Peru television executive his government's difference with the Americans:

"The only alternative that the Americans have in order to solve the problem of Colombia, is the invasion... They are preparing half a million Marine infantry troops in order to invade Colombia and they asked us for the President to make declarations because they could not say it themselves… When the infantry of the Marines does enter, what are they going to make the FARC and the drug dealers do? They are going to come to Perú. And if we don't close the border now and adopt security measures, we will bring the problem here."

He who lives by the videotape dies by the videotape, and it was precisely the astonishing public release of one of Montesinos' videotapes by his political opponents (how they got it remains a mystery) in which Montesinos bribes a member of Peru's congressional opposition, that led to Montesinos' loss of control. He fled the country and his former sponsor, President Fujimori, named a special prosecutor, Jose Carlos Ugaz, to investigate his former right hand man.

According to the daily Clarin of Argentina last November 5th, Jose Carlos Ugaz, in no time at all, easily obtained evidence of the Montesinos money-laundering trail. Facts that the vast global empire of Citibank, previously, had no incentive to know about their Montesino family and friends accounts:

"The prosecutor said that he will investigate not only the bank accounts in Switzerland, but others that he also had, according to information obtained by Clarin, in Atlantic Security Bank, Bank of New York, Republic National Bank, Florida Bank, Midstate Bank & Trust Company, Citibank Private Bank and the Central Counties bank, as well as other banks in Panama, the Cayman Islands, Trinidad and Tobago.

"In the majority of the mentioned banks, the accounts would be in the name of Montesinos' wife, Trinidad Becerra Ramirez, and it is suspected that they are also in the name of one of the sisters of the ex-advisor, Karelia Montesinos Torres, married with the ex-strategic chief of the Second Military Region, General Luis Cubas Portal."

Again, Citibank appears through its Private Banking division.

And from here we begin to arrive at the unspoken public policy scandal to come over the behavior of Citibank and other financial giants in the United States when it comes to laundering the ill-gotten gains of Latin American dictators and businessmen: Citibank's declarations of "special criteria" and vigilance over public figures is only selectively applied according to the current political positions of the U.S. government.

As long as Montesinos was an "intelligence asset" of the CIA and U.S. government, Citibank and the other U.S. banks knew they could safely look the other way without provoking the attention of the authorities who, supposedly, prosecute illicit money laundering.

It was only when Montesinos fell out of favor with U.S. authorities that Citibank made any move against his vast money-laundering operation. U.S. law enforcers moved on a key Montesinos "bagman" only weeks after the November 2000 downfall of Fujimori, and just a few months after Montesinos went underground, both having lost the support of the United States.

The March 2001 issue of Money Laundering Alert included a sub-section titled:

Montesinos "bagman" a Citibank customer

And it reported:

Now, another of its (Citibank's) foreign "public figure" customers, Victor Venero Garrido, a Peruvian military official, whom the FBI says was a "most trusted bag/straw man" for Montesinos, has had his Citibank accounts and large cashiers checks seized by the U.S. on money laundering and other grounds. On January 26, the FBI arrested him in Miami as a foreign fugitive as he tried to withdraw funds from Citibank.

Money Laundering Alert called Montesinos' operation a "Far-reaching laundering scheme," noting that:

Montesinos allegedly moved $75 million between 1998 and 2000 through other accounts to diverse businesses in several countries. Fujimori fled Peru in December shortly after Montesinos escaped. The president took refuge in Japan, his ancestral home, which refuses to honor Peru's extradition request because of Fujimori's previously undisclosed dual nationality.

The Justice Department and FBI have initiated a bi-coastal effort to find and seize the fortune Venero allegedly deposited in California and Florida banks. Federal court orders freezing his accounts have been obtained in both states on laundering and other grounds (Title 18, USC Sec. 981(b)(4)). "We think there are more assets to be found," said Judy Orihuela, an FBI spokeswoman.

The FBI says Venero recently deposited about $15 million at Citibank in Miami, and had four Citibank cashiers checks and six from Hacienda Bank, of California, when arrested. The FBI believes Venero had up to $1 million in a Sanwa Bank account and $250,000 in Northern Trust, which advertises itself as "The Private Bank."

The military pension fund scheme, the U.S. says, involved kickbacks to Venero from Peruvian banks where he had deposited millions in fund dollars. The FBI says he stole over a hundred million dollars from the fund. Neither he nor Montesinos has yet been charged with a U.S. crime.

And Money Laundering Alert concludes that part of Montesinos' fortune comes from "Alleged drug trafficking":

In Peru, the corruption allegations against Fujimori and Montesinos go far beyond misappropriation and shady business deals. They allegedly netted up to $45 million from deals with, and payoffs from, Pablo Escobar, the late Colombian drug lord, according to his brother, Roberto, who is now in a Colombian prison. Montesinos allegedly had agreed to give safe passage to Escobar's drug-laden planes at Peru airstrips.

And yet, it was not until after Montesinos' fall from grace with U.S. authorities that Citibank moved against his money-laundering operation, by alerting federal authorities to the accounts of the "bagman," Venero.

Reuters reported this Spring that Venero opened his Citibank account in 1998, but that Citibank claims that "nothing seemed out of place" with his deposits of $15 million U.S. dollars in the Miami branch:

NEW YORK, March 28 (Reuters) - A high-ranking Peruvian official, Victor Alberto Venero-Garrido, opened a bank account at Citibank in Miami in 1998, and moved about $15 million through it until January this year, when the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested him.

As Latin Americans often opened dollar-denominated bank accounts in the United States to protect their savings and stocks from inflation in their home countries, nothing seemed out of place -- at first.

But Citibank, a unit of financial services firm Citigroup Inc. and other banks with Venero-Garrido's money gradually noticed unusual activity in the accounts and alerted the authorities, law enforcement officials said.

Whatever the "special criteria" boasted about by Citibank officials (including by former Citicorp CEO John Reed in his 1999 testimony before a Congressional committee investigating drug money laundering), "nothing seemed out of place" with Venero's accounts to Citibank officials, said law enforcers.

Yet, it was a matter of public information that Venero controlled Peru's police and military pension funds, and that he was closely allied with Montesinos.

Reuters adds that the Venero millions, before they reached Citibank, were "surreptitiously removed from Peru through banks in the Cayman Islands. He used wire transfers to deposit funds in to the account, opened accounts under corporate names and even used relatives to deposit money from Peru, according to sources close to the investigation… Ultimately, the funds wound up at a number of U.S. banks and brokerages," including, "Citibank, where Venero-Garrido had a personal banker although he was not a private bank client."

Earlier this year, the Miami Herald reported that there was, indeed, plenty "out of place" with Venero's activities, including within Florida, and yet none of this seemed "out of place" to Citibank officials - at least while Montesinos still enjoyed the banking of the U.S. government.

The Herald reports on Venero:

His South Florida homes were bought in cash for a combined $666,400 in 1995, Miami-Dade County records show.

The luxury Surfside condo in Champlain Towers East, 8855 Collins Ave., was purchased in his name. The house, a two-story, 2,500-square-foot home in the Three Lakes development, 13365 SW 151st Ter., was deeded to his wife, Luz Elena Nazar Loayza.

In a 1997 deal, the condo was transferred to Vialve Company Ltd., a corporation registered in the Cayman Islands. Records list Venero as the company director. A year later, the house was transferred to the same company. No money was involved in either transaction, real estate documents show.

On Dec. 4, 2000, the properties were transferred again, this time to a company in the British Virgin Islands called Coral Row Group, according to real estate records. The company's local address: Mail Boxes Etc. on Southwest Eighth Street.

Again, we see the selectivity of Citibank's "special criteria" regarding public officials, enacted in 1997 after the scandal erupted around the bank's laundering of illicit funds for the family of former Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari.

Citibank began doing business with Venero in 1998, after the "special criteria" for "public figures" was put into force. The public official, Venero, head of the state pension funds in Peru, had already bought a $666,400 South Florida home "in cash," but "nothing seemed out of place" to Citibank. He transferred his condo to a Cayman Islands company that listed him as the director, and later a house to the same; "no money was transacted," but, to Citibank, "nothing seemed out of place."

All this occurred before Citibank gave Venero a personal banker (who, despite the oft-stated duty to "know your client" apparently was unconcerned with the source of his funds or the nature of his Florida property ownership) and accepted $15 million dollars in deposits from this government functionary from Peru.

The Miami Herald also reports that, while a Citibank client with his own personal banker there, Venero had a scrape with the law last Summer:

Venero, who was in the United States on a tourist visa, didn't live in either home for very long, neighbors said.

In fact, on a July 2000 visit to the United States, he stayed in Room 1076 at the Fontainebleau Hotel, a Miami Beach Police report said. Officers showed up at his room after someone reported screams. They found Venero's girlfriend, Lourdes Muñoz, on the bed with a bloody nose.

Venero, who told police Muñoz's face had accidentally struck his elbow while his arms were raised, was hauled off to jail, along with $2,500 in his Versace billfold. The charges were dropped.

A month later, the Montesinos video scandal hit, he soon went underground, Fujimori soon fled to Japan, and only after that did U.S. officials take action against Venero, arresting him on January 26, 2001.

Venero must have intuited that the jig was up: In December 2000, as Fujimori fled, according to the Herald, he disappeared. That's when his Citibanker said he lost contact with him. And Venero changed his address to a "Mail Boxes, Etc." storefront mailbox in the British Virgin Islands.

Federal officials told the Herald they began surveillance upon Venero's house in South Florida "last year." They were not specific on the date, but the first identification of Venero by a neighbor came in December. Certainly, there had been no All Points Bulletin on Venero last July when he was apprehended by local police after bloodying his girlfriend's nose in a hotel room. Although an immigrant on a tourist visa, he was allowed to walk free: In Miami, a virtual bee hive of federal immigration officials.

But Montesinos and Fujimori were still in power then, and their bagmen and money-launderers could still count with immunity and impunity from U.S. authorities. It was in the following months that they fell. Then, and only then, did the "special criteria" kick in.

When it comes to Citibank - and other U.S. banks - this is really about an unwritten "very special criteria": Individuals who are "intelligence assets" of the U.S. government may launder millions. And the banks will compete for their business.

It is only when foreign politicians fall out of favor with U.S. authorities that the law suddenly applies.

Like the larger drug war for which it stands, government and business "controls" on money laundering represent a hypocritical policy. That policy has nothing to do with combatting drugs, but, rather with persecuting the powerless while protecting the powerful.

And when it comes to politically favored strongmen across our América like Vladimiro Montesinos, his bagmen, and his family, as long as they obey the larger official agendas of globalization, repression against social movements for true democracy and justice, and support for Plan Colombia and similar interventions, U.S. officials have their own "special criteria." They look the other way.


DEA Chief Robert Bonner said CIA Smuggled Drugs

L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."—Senator John Kerry (1996)

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. -1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, CIA Headquarters
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Website of Peter Dale Scott, Phd
B.7e Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall) Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1998. pp. vii, 263. Electronic edition, available in netLibrary Private Collection.

[ C. V. | New and Recent | Iraq, al-Qaeda | Selected Writings | Complete Bibl ]

Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is a poet, writer, and researcher. He was born in Montreal in 1929, the only son of the poet F.R. Scott and the painter Marian Scott. He is married to Ronna Kabatznick; and he has three children, Cassie, Mika, and John, by a previous marriage to Maylie Marshall.

His prose books include The War Conspiracy (1972), The Assassinations: Dallas and Beyond (in collaboration, 1976), Crime and Cover-Up: The CIA, the Mafia, and the Dallas-Watergate Connection (1977), The Iran-Contra Connection (in collaboration, 1987), Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America (in collaboration, 1991, 1998), Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (1993, 1996), Deep Politics Two (from JFKLancer, 1995), and Drugs Oil and War (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, March 2003) Click here to read the Preface to this book. (I am often asked about the availability of my out-of-print War Conspiracy; the five most relevant chapters are reprinted in this book.)


His chief poetry books are the three volumes of his trilogy Seculum: Coming to Jakarta: A Poem About Terror (1989), Listening to the Candle: A Poem on Impulse (1992), and Minding the Darkness: A Poem for the Year 2000. In addition he has published Crossing Borders: Selected Shorter Poems (1994). In November 2002 he was awarded the Lannan Poetry Award.

An anti-war speaker during the Vietnam and Gulf Wars, he was a co-founder of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at UC Berkeley, and of the Coalition on Political Assassinations (COPA).


His poetry has dealt with both his experience and his research, the latter of which has centered on U.S. covert operations, their impact on democracy at home and abroad, and their relations to the John F. Kennedy assassination and the global drug traffic. The poet-critic Robert Hass has written (Agni, 31/32, p. 335) that "Coming to Jakarta is the most important political poem to appear in the English language in a very long time."

A Note to Visitors:
See my special Webpage on Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, and Iraq
, updated July 30, 2005.

A Note to Visitors, July 19, 2005

For three years I have neglected this website, having concentrated on finishing my new book, The Road to 9/11. It is now time to begin posting selected excerpts from my book. Watch for postings here or on my 9/11 page.

THE ROAD TO 9/11 (excerpt from forthcoming book, 2005)

"Al Qaeda, U.S. Oil Companies, and Central Asia" (July 19, 2005)


A Note to Visitors, July 24, 2000:

I want to thank those who have visited either the prose or the poetry sections of my website. I would also like to invite both groups of readers to check out what I have posted about my new book, Minding the Darkness, which appeared in October 2000 from New Directions.

Rightly or wrongly, I believe Minding the Darkness to be my most important book. It is certainly the book on which I have worked the longest, having begun it in 1990. Working on it helped me refine my thinking about the central notions of Deep Politics, as I mention in passing on p. 22 of that book.

Click here to learn more about Minding the Darkness. Those interested in my writings on drugs in particular should look at the option From IV.i which concerns the Fed, the CIA, and the role of drug-trafficking in diminishing balance-of-payments crises. (I read from this section in my speech on drugs and the CIA at the June 2000 CIA Drugs Symposium that was broadcast over Alternative Radio and NPR in December 2000.)

Click here for a brief summary of how my poem handles the current 9/11 crisis of "secular capitalism...facing the theocratic alternative of shariah and jihad" (p. 240).

If you have any comments or questions, I would be glad to hear from you at pdscottweb@hotmail.com.


Born Montreal, January 11, 1929. Married (1) Mary Elizabeth Marshall, June 16, 1956 (divorced, 1993): three children (Catherine Dale, Thomas, John Daniel). Married (2) Ronna Kabatznick, July 14, 1993. A Canadian citizen.

Education and Teaching:

B.A. (McGill University, Montreal), 1949. First Class Honors in Philosophy, Second Class Honors in Political Science.
Studied six months at Institut d'Etudes Politiques, Paris; and two years at University College, Oxford (1950-1952).
Ph.D. in Political Science (McGill), 1955. Dissertation on The Social and Political Ideas of T.S. Eliot.

1952-1953. Teacher at Sedbergh School, Montebello, Quebec.
1955-1956. Lecturer, Department of Political Science, McGill University.
1961-1966. Speech Department, University of California, Berkeley: Lecturer (1961); Acting Assistant Professor (1962); Assistant Professor (1963).
1966-1994. English Department, University of California, Berkeley: Assistant Professor (1966); Associate Professor (1968); Professor (1980). Retired 1994.

Professional Service

Foreign Service Officer, Canadian Department of External Affairs, 1957-1961: Twelfth and Thirteenth Sessions, United Nations General Assembly, 1957, 1958; Canadian Embassy in Warsaw, Poland (1959-1961); United Nations Conference on Statelessness (Geneva, 1959); United Nations Conference on Diplomatic Intercourse and Immunities (Vienna, 1961)
Senior Fellow, International Center for Development Policy, Washington, D.C., June-November 1987.


Canadian Social Sciences Research Council, 1956-57. Guggenheim Fellow, 1969-1970.

Honors and Awards

International Center for Development Policy, Freedom Award, 1987.
Finalist, Canadian Governor-General's Award for Poetry, 1988.
Reed Foundation Poetry Chapbook, Dia Art Foundation, 1989.
Writer in Residence, University of Toronto, Fall 1992.
Honorable Mention, Mencken Awards, Best Book, 1992.
Sylvia Meagher Award, Coalition on Political Assassinations, 1996.
JFK Pioneer Award, JFKLancer, 1997.
Resident, Bellagio Study Center, Aug.-Sept. 1997.
Lannan Poetry Award, 2002 (with Alan Dugan).
Lannan Writing Residency, Marfa, TX, March-April 2004



What Will Congress Do About New CIA-Drug Revelations?

Peter Dale Scott

Monday, June 19, 2000


CONGRESS WILL shortly have to decide whether to bury or deal with explosive new revelations that the Central Intelligence Agency protected major drug traffickers who aided the Contra army in Central America. These new findings go far beyond the original stories which gave rise to them by Gary Webb in 1996.

Webb had alleged that cocaine from two Contra-supporting traffickers, Norwin Meneses and Danilo Blandon, had helped fuel the national crack epidemic. The resulting political firestorm brought promises of a full investigation. After an unprecedented review of internal CIA and Justice Department files, three massive reports, totaling almost 1,000 pages, were released by the inspectors general of the CIA (Fred Hitz) and Justice Department (Michael Bromwich).

The new revelations confirmed many of Webb's claims. Meneses and Blandon were admitted to have been (despite previous press denials) ``significant traffickers who also supported, to some extent, the Contras.'' For years they escaped prosecution, until after support for the Contras ended.

Meanwhile the reports opened the doors on worse scandals. According to the reports, the CIA made conscious use of major traffickers as agents, contractors and assets. It maintained good relations with Contras it knew to be working with drug traffickers. It protected traffickers which the Justice Department was trying to prosecute, sometimes by suppressing or denying the existence of information.

This protection extended to major Drug Enforcement Agency targets considered to be among the top smugglers of cocaine into this country. Perhaps the most egregious example is that of the Honduran trafficker Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros. Matta had been identified by the DEA in 1985 as the most important member of a consortium moving a major share (perhaps a third, perhaps more than half) of all the cocaine from Colombia to the United States. The DEA also knew that Matta was behind the kidnapping of a DEA agent in Mexico, Enrique Camarena, who was subsequently tortured and murdered.

A public enemy? Yes. But Matta was also an ally of the CIA. Matta's airline, SETCO, was recorded in U.S. files as a drug-smuggling airline. It was also the chief airline with which the CIA contracted to fly supplies to the Contra camps in Honduras. When the local DEA office began to move against Matta in 1983, it was shut down. Though Matta's whereabouts were well- known, the United States did not arrest and extradite him until 1988, a few days after Congress ended support for the Contras.

At Matta's first drug trial, a U.S. attorney described him as ``on the level of the top 10 Colombian drug traffickers.'' We now learn from the CIA Hitz reports that, in the same year, 1989, CIA officials reported falsely, in response to an inquiry from Justice, that in CIA files ``There are no records of a SETCO Air.'' CIA officers appear also to have lied to Hitz's investigators about who said this.

There appears to have been a broad pattern of withholding information from the Justice Department. For example, when Justice began to investigate the drug activities of two Contra supporters, CIA headquarters turned down proposals that CIA should interview the two men. The reason in one case was that such documentation would be ``exactly the sort of thing the U.S. Attorney's Office will be investigating.''

The House Committee on Intelligence received this information, and chose to deny it. According to a recent committee report, ``There is no evidence . . . that CIA officers . . . ever concealed narcotics trafficking information or allegations involving the Contras.''

Just as dishonestly, the committee found that ``there is unambiguous reporting in the CIA materials reviewed showing that the Nicaraguan Democratic Force (FDN) leadership in Nicaragua would not accept drug monies and would remove from its ranks those who had involvement in drug trafficking.'' In fact, the Hitz reports contained a detailed account of drug-trafficking by members of the main FDN faction, the September 15th League (ADREN). Those named included the FDN chief of logistics. According to the Hitz Reports, ``CIA also received allegations or information concerning drug trafficking by nine Contra-related individuals in the (FDN) Northern Front.'' This included credible information, corroborated elsewhere, against leaders such as Juan Ramon Rivas, the Northern Army chief of staff. Yet CIA support for the FDN continued, through a period when aid to any drug-tainted Contra organization was forbidden by statute.

In short, the House Committee Report is a dishonest coverup of CIA wrong-doings, what one might expect from a committee chaired and staffed by former CIA officers.

As committee member Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-S.F., said in a hearing two years ago, ``This is an issue of great concern in our community.'' Will she, and other like-minded representatives, repudiate this flimsy attempt to silence that concern with falsehoods?''

The answer may depend on the voters: Will they object as strongly as before?

Peter Dale Scott was an expert witness before the Citizens' Commission on U.S. Drug Policy. Scott will participate in a panel discussion on U.S. drug policy at The Independent Institute in Oakland on Wednesday. To attend, please call the Institute at (510) 632-1366.

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DEA Chief Robert Bonner said CIA Smuggled Drugs

L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."—Senator John Kerry (1996)

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. -1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, CIA Headquarters
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The War on Drugs: Who is Winning? Who is Losing?
June 21, 2000
Peter Dale Scott, Jonathan Victor Marshall, Alexander Cockburn


Introductory Remarks by David Theroux

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, my name is David Theroux and I’m the President of the Independent Institute. I’m delighted to welcome you to our Independent Policy Forum this evening. As many of you know who have been with us before, we hold these events roughly monthly on many different major public policy issues.

This evening’s program is titled “The War on Drugs: Who is Winning? Who is Losing?” I want to take this opportunity to thank some people who helped us with this evening’s program. One is Mondavi Winery who were kind enough to donate the wine and See’s Candies who donated the truffles. Also The Customer Company is a co-sponsor of our policy forum program, this one and many of the others.

For those of you also new at the Institute, hopefully, you got a copy of the packet when you registered. You’ll find information about our program, membership, publications, and so forth in there. The Independent Institute is a rather unusual organization. It’s a non-profit academic public policy research institute. And we produce many books some of which you may have seen upstairs. We also produce a quarterly journal called The Independent Review.

The current issue is this one, which is available, but also some of you may be interested, if you’re seriously interested in the issue of the war on drugs, in some of the past issues. This was one of the early issues [Fall, 1996]. It goes back to the first year of our operation for the journal and has really a seminal piece on the origins of the current war on drugs during the Reagan Administration. And it’s a piece that I’d highly recommend. Another one that I’d recommend is this issue, here, for those of you interested in the issue of privacy and how that might relate to some of these topics.

The results of the work that we produce, in general, are published as books and in The Independent Review and in other studies. And we’ve organized many conference and media programs based on that work. Our interest is to get beyond what most people consider to be left and right, hopefully, to get to a more accurate assessment of the nature of politics, of economics, of political economy domestically and internationally. And we’re interested in serious-minded people who can develop information that contributes towards that.

I also wanted to point out another study that we did, which I hope we have up here, let’s see—anyway there are copies upstairs, it’s called Illicit Drugs and Crime and it’s by one of our research fellows whose name is Bruce Benson, who’s also the author of this book called To Serve and Protect, which also deals in part on the drug war.

Another study that we did that relates to this is this book called Taxing Choice, and it deals with the issue of the use of taxation and prohibition as a way to control populations in different ways. Many people are not aware of the fact that the Harrison Act, when it was first passed, was actually an excise tax. It was an excise tax on opiates and other drugs. It was only later converted into a prohibition, and part of the reason was allegedly that the excise tax, which engendered a black market in those substances, resulted in the usual crime that people would see, and that then led to calls for even more Draconian measures that led to outright prohibition.

In your packet, also, there’s a flyer on this evening’s program. Here’s a copy of the study that I just mentioned by Benson. In the packet, there’s also a flyer on this evening’s program which also lists another upcoming event, which is actually a broadcast of our previous event, which will be this weekend on C-SPAN.

Some of you I recognize were here last month for the program we did with Robert Stinnett and his book, Day of Deceit. Day of Deceit is a book that’s been out for about six months from the Free Press. Stinnett is a former journalist with the Oakland Tribune and he was the person who spent about 16 years, was determined to try and get the actual documents that related to the build up to the Pearl Harbor attack that led to the U.S. involvement in the European and Pacific War in the 1940s. And the story that he has to tell is pretty provocative, to say the least. Anyway, that will be broadcast this weekend on Saturday and Sunday.

For this evening, we’re very pleased to have three distinguished authors, experts on an issue that is of widespread interest. It affects people dramatically in a whole range of areas. It touches on economics, it touches on law, it touches on political issues, it touches on U.S. Foreign Policy. It’s really an amazing issue once you start looking at it.

And we’re delighted to be featuring two books. The first one is the book, Whiteout, which is now out in softcover from Verso. We’re delighted that Alex Cockburn, one of the co-authors, is here. Unfortunately his co-author, Jeffrey St. Clair, couldn’t make it for personal reasons. The other book that we’re featuring is Cocaine Politics, which is from the University of California Press, and both of its authors are here: Peter Dale Scott, who’s Professor Emeritus of English from the University of California, Berkeley, and Jonathan Marshall, who is former Economics Editor at the San Francisco Chronicle. So I hope that each of you can get copies of those books before you leave.

Before we begin, I’d like to share a few recent news events, and those of you who are familiar with these events, I apologize for mentioning them again, but I think they’re somewhat germane. This past Wednesday Governor Ben Cayetano of Hawaii signed a bill decriminalizing the use of medical marijuana. Although similar laws have been passed, as many of you know, in seven states and the District of Columbia, Hawaii is the first state where the laws were enacted by a State Legislature rather than a ballot initiative as it was in California. Recent polls have found that 73 percent of Americans favor legalizing the medical use of marijuana, yet the federal government has yet to recognize any of these actions on the state level.

Number two, despite this trend, also this past week, the crusading medical marijuana activist, Peter McWilliams, suddenly died. The 50-year-old McWilliams was the author of numerous very popular personal growth and self help books, as well as collections of poetry and photography, but he may be best known for his influential book Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do. He, like so many others who were suffering from AIDS, had found that using marijuana was highly effective in reducing the nausea caused by the AIDS drug he was taking. However although Prop. 215, the California Medical Marijuana Initiative, passed overwhelmingly, federal drug and tax agents stormed his home and offices on December 17th, 1997, confiscating all of his manuscripts and equipment and effectively shutting down his publishing business. He self-published his book.

As his battle with federal authorities dragged on, McWilliams’ home life and health deteriorated to say the least. Barred from using Prop. 215 or evidence of the value of medical marijuana as defenses in a Federal courtroom, he was forced to plead guilty. Awaiting sentencing and forbidden to use marijuana by the court, McWilliams was unable to hold down his AIDS medication. As a result his viral count soared and he spent long hours in bed fighting nausea. Being unable to work, he defaulted on bankruptcy payments and then lost his home. His subsequent death was caused by choking as a result of his nausea.

Number three. Many of you are probably familiar with the recent article in The New Yorker by the investigative reporter and author, Seymour Hersh, that has raised serious questions about American actions at the end of the Gulf War, including allegations that American troops fired on hundreds of disarmed Iraqi prisoners, many of whom were wounded, and others who were trying to surrender. In one of these accounts, the forces under the command of General Barry McCaffrey moved his forces to deliberately provoke a battle with retreating Iraqi forces who were already following Allied guidelines on how to withdraw from the war zone.

McCaffrey has denied every one of these accounts. However, ABC News has since reported that perhaps as many as 200 to 300 of the surrendering Iraqis, who had been disarmed in an area known to hold disarmed prisoners, were shot and killed by a group of 14 Bradley fighting vehicles which suddenly appeared and opened up and fired on them. The Bradleys were from the 1st Brigade of the 24th Infantry Division under the command of General McCaffrey. To this day, the Army has not even interviewed the crews of all the Bradleys and those who submitted statements have denied that the incident had occurred. In fact, Colonel John LeMoyne, Commander of the 1st Brigade, has claimed that “… none, zero, soldiers. The Iraqi soldiers were never shot at ever at that point. None of us, hundreds and hundreds of us, ever saw a body. None of us.” Meanwhile one of the soldiers involved in the disarming of the Iraqi soldiers has produced an audio tape recording of the entire incident.

No doubt General McCaffrey’s particular leadership during the Gulf War was a major reason for his being named drug czar by President Clinton. [laughter] War on drugs is a war on people. And who better to head up such a war than the old General himself.

For decades now the U.S. Government has waged a relentless war on the use of marijuana, opiates and many other substances, yet illicit drugs today are more plentiful than ever. How could that be?

The war on drugs is global in scope. It has cost who knows how many billions of dollars. The war has produced mandatory bank deposit disclosures, government surveillance, civil asset forfeiture laws, prison overcrowding is an understatement, encryption software restrictions, rampant police and political corruption, the wholesale trampling of constitutional liberties by the DEA, CIA, FBI, INS and other agencies.

The format of our program tonight will be to have each of our speakers speak for about 15 minutes. Afterward we’ll open it up for Q&A. And so let’s begin.

Our first speaker is Alexander Cockburn, born and raised in Ireland. He is a syndicated columnist for the Los Angeles Times, co-editor of CounterPunch, and we have copies here that Alex kindly brought. Oh,—I guess it’s the current issue of CounterPunch—the recent issue and everyone is, until we run out, welcome to take copies. He’s also a columnist for The Nation. He graduated with honors from Oxford University in 1963 with a degree in English Literature and Language. After two years as an editor of the London based Times Literary Supplement, he worked with the New Left Review and the New Statesman.

A permanent resident of the US since 1973, Alex wrote for many years for the Village Voice about the press and politics. Since then he’s contributed to many publications including the New York Review of Books, Harper’s, The Atlantic and the Wall Street Journal, where he held a position or he held—actually, he actually authored a regular column for 10 years through the 1980s.

In addition to his book with Jeffrey St. Clair which I just mentioned, called Whiteout, he’s the author of many, many other books including: Corruptions of Empire, The Fate of the Forest, Nightwatch Over Nature, The Golden Ages In Us, and on and on. I’m very pleased to introduce Alex Cockburn. [applause]

Alexander Cockburn

Thank you very much, David. I do like these—he mentioned trying to get beyond right and left. I think there are things that separate right and left, but I think there are many areas and many topics where people who might come out of different chunks of the political spectrum can really talk. Drugs is one of them. Anti-war activities is another. I think the current debate over hate crimes is something that might bring people from the Libertarian end and from the left end together. And I think we are in a period of flux, hopefully creative flux, in our political life.

I come from the left end of the spectrum and there is no one (no people) more dedicated to staying in their own quarters [laughter] and not putting their heads over the parapet too much than people on the left. And that’s true of other crowds as well, and anything that gets people out and shakes them up a bit, in my estimation, is to be applauded and I think the Libertarian end and the Independent Institute should be congratulated for doing that. And the more we do it, the better we’ll be off.

So here we are talking about “the drug war, who’s winning, who’s losing?” And we’ll answer the question, I think, right away, and then you can all leave. [laughter] The state is winning, the state. Other people are losing. The rationale ultimately for drug wars is the interest of the state.

You’re looking at three authors here who’ve done books, which have discussed extensively the role of intelligence agencies, the CIA, in facilitating participating in covering up for, or sponsoring the trafficking in illegal drugs. And Peter Dale Scott will go into some of the minutiae of that later on.

But one thing should be made clear, I think, is that from my point of view, the thing to remember—occasionally there’s a misleading phrase: the CIA, a rogue agency. It’s not. It doesn’t do things by and large without the absolute sanction and OK of the government. So when the CIAs is doing those things with drugs, it is operating as an executive agency of government.

And I would like to remind people that the history of government roles in advancing the sale and smuggling of drugs is a very ancient one. I won’t go back through it, but the British, of course, attacked China in the 19th Century in two wars to insure that they could sell opium in China. Savage wars in the interest of the free market. That was a drug war to make the Chinese accept—the Chinese Emperor and his government were opposed. They said, “we don’t want this drug destroying our people.” The British said, “well, it’s the free market, buddy.” And they went at it.

From the very inception of the CIA, and in the years before the CIA was created in this sort of Second World War period, there was an intimate association between U.S. intelligence agencies and criminal organizations in smuggling drugs into this country.

There were structural reasons for that. To wit, that intelligence agencies have a need for criminal elements to do some of the dirty work they don’t want to do themselves. By and large criminal organizations and intelligence agencies are right wing, pro-capitalists, anti-insurgency, anti-left. Their interests are very often common. And so you can go through postwar history from the association of Naval Intelligence and the OSS—this is before the CIA was created with Luciano and the Mafia—to the earliest days of the CIA and the Nationalist Chinese to Southeast Asia. The association of the agency with drug smuggling, trafficking producing gangs. Their need to recruit workers from small tribes, hill tribes in the Burmese Triangle, those identity of interest which led to direct connivance and assistance and oversight by the Central Intelligence Agency into bringing drugs into this country.

You can take that history forward through Afghanistan. You can take it to Burma. You can take it with Kosovo. Right now the U.S. Senate is debating an aid bill. They’re looking at about a billion, the House, I think, passed 1.8 billion dollars, to send military supplies, which they’re obviously already sending illegally as it is. This is, so to speak, only a formal imprimatur on to what is undoubtedly happening already. You’ll recall that for many years they said there were only 56 U.S. advisors in El Salvador and about a few years ago they said well, actually it was several thousand. [laughter] Not one word did they ever say about personnel abroad in this passage around the world can ever be believed for one second. Ever. Under no circumstances should you ever believe anything of that nature when articulated by the U.S. Government. It’s not worth the paper it’s written on.

What are the structural objectives of this? Well, obviously, the drug war abroad is a counter-insurgency war. It’s another method of repressing threats to empire, threats to the American interests. It’s a way of fortifying the allies of the U.S. abroad. The rationale, for example, in Colombia: they think there might be some resistance if they say this is a straight counter-insurgency; people might say well, you know, another Vietnam for God’s sake, you really going to get into that? So they’ve done it more and more under the rationale of the knockout terrorist gangs, combining all the bugaboos. You have the bugaboo of drugs. You have the bugaboo of terrorists. And you roll them all into one. And that’s what we’re waging war on.

General McCaffrey who, as David pointed out, is pretty much a certified war criminal. I mean not a big one, a middle-sized war criminal. [laughter] I mean we’ve got several bigger ones around, let’s face it. But I’d be astounded actually, even by our degenerate standards, the lack of commotion, and was extremely well argued, well researched, I thought, irrefutable piece by Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker magazine. It has raised a remarkably little stir. He then said General McCaffrey, war criminal. General McCaffrey, drug czar and war criminal, maybe part of the working title for the job in future. [laughter]

So—and we can see what will clearly happen, now. The stage is being set up for our drug war in Colombia. The latest issue of CounterPunch, not quite out, actually has a very good story now. They’re now already unleashing bio-war on the Colombian cocoa growers. A bio-war that may easily affect yams which spill over from the cocoa. It would be an absolute ecological catastrophe. For those of us who like to feel that we’re in the post-cold war phase, and that’s an encouraging sign, they’re actually using former Soviet biotechnicians to make their various biotoxins in the form of Soviet Union. It’s an encouraging sign of how we’ve moved on to a more global approach to the world’s problems. That’s Colombia.

Domestically, and that’s, I think, an area where Mr. Marshall will review the domestic costs, what has the function of a drug war been? It’s clearly been to repress and control. Social repression, social control of what a French historian once described as the dangerous classes or the potentially dangerous classes.

I don’t know how many people here have had an opportunity to read the findings of the so-called Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. An amazing and horrifying saga of what the Apartheid Government was doing, very often with CIA connivance, by the way, and active support, in its war against South African black people. A large part of it—they had a very extensive program of trying to make sure that the townships had a constant supply of drugs of one sort or another. They saw the socially pacifying function of drugs. They also explored greatly the mind altering function of drugs, which is an area, of course, that the CIA was deeply involved within from the late ‘40s on.

Government agencies have always been completely obsessed with the utility of drugs as a method of social control. Social persuasion. Social control. Rationale for increased policing. And the costs, and Jonathan will enumerate them, he told me before that he was going to, his specific area, have been gigantic as we all know. We have a vast prison population. A huge number of people in there for non-violent drug crimes. We have the attrition of civil liberties. We have all the rationales which David briefly mentioned. From spying, encryption, you name it. Governments love rationales like that. There are other ones they use. Terrorism by the way is one that’s shackled at the ankle with the drug wars, another way of destroying civil liberties and constitutional protections.

So the State has been waging these drug wars since, I guess, the first war in the Bay area against the Chinese in the 1870s when they passed a law against opium smoking, which allowed them to expel, summarily, the Chinese they brought over to build the railroads, dig the mines, and the rest of it. And they wanted to get rid of them because there was an economic depression, and so what did they do? They had a drug law aimed specifically at the Chinese. For the middle class people, all our great grandparents who were sipping their little tonics, at least my great grandmother did, all the various little opiates that people had, they were not brought in. There was a disproportion there. And that was the first, one of the first drug wars we had.

So where are we in this drug war? There’s obviously widespread public disillusion and dismay about it. I think most people, at some level—first of all there’s the sheer number of casualties in the drug war, which probably means that most people know someone, have heard of someone, a relative of someone, who’s doing time in a penitentiary somewhere. Maybe not so much in the upper rungs of society, but certainly in the lower rungs of society.

And I think, on the one hand, we have an increasingly berserk administration of the war by McCaffrey and forces. There’s hardly a day goes out—we’ve just discovered that the drug czar’s office says when people visit the drug site, and their computers are promptly sort of invaded by some little bug type thing designed and put in by the public relations firm that handles the White House drug czar’s business. You read this on almost a daily basis.

On the other hand, when resolutions or the action of the Hawaiian Legislature come up, there’s clearer support for a different way. People aren’t dumb. They know perfectly well that all of this enforcement has not reduced by a kilogram, by an ounce, the amount of cocaine arriving in this country.

I was living in Key West when the first Bush drug laws came in. Key West, in those days, was a marijuana town with all the relaxed attitude that marijuana implies. And then, of course, the laws meant that the smugglers had to produce smaller packets to make it easier for themselves, so they went to cocaine. And Key West went to hell as a result, I have to say.

But people know when they read that the Feds have seized, or the LAPD, or someone has seized 18 tons of cocaine in a warehouse, they think if they seized that how much is getting into this country? Brilliant speech, please keep going. [laughter] [applause] You almost never get that from a guy. [laughter]

So I think people are ready for anything. They’re ready to say give it a different way. Anyone coming forward with proposals will get a ready reception, I think. This is the wrap-up, don’t worry, David. We have on the ballot now in California an initiative which purports to emphasize the treatment side as opposed to the incarceration side for drug offenders. Actually I wrote myself a critique of it, because I think it’s not particularly well thought out. Because I think there is something that may be, and I’ll leave this as a thought for you, drugs are, I believe and I may differ from people here, a social—there can be a major social problem. Booze can be a social problem. Families that are screwed up by alcohol aren’t pretty sights. It’s a public health issue.

As we hopefully move towards recognition of the drug problem, of people afflicted by drug addiction, by families cursed by problems arising from drug addiction, as we face what are the correct and sensible ways of dealing with this, I think we’re in a very important stage of policy formation, to use a rather pompous phrase. And I think, sometimes, I fear what will happen, of course, is that people will be so maddened by the drug war, they’ll say to hell with the whole goddamn thing. Tear all the laws down, but you will be left with a problem. How do you deal with that problem?

I think personally the drug courts, such that I know of them, are pretty good. People may have different ideas, but I think as we look at these various aspects of drug wars we shouldn’t forget that one. It is our bounded duty first of all to attack the rationalization and use of drug laws by the state, and, secondly, to think what is the socially responsible way of dealing with the drug problem as a social issue and a health issue. Thank you. [applause]

David Theroux

Thank you, Alex. I don’t want to cut you back, but to get everybody in and then get to the Q&A, I’m afraid I have to.

Our next speaker is Peter Dale Scott. Peter’s a former Canadian diplomat. As I mentioned earlier, he’s Professor of English Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. Peter’s been an anti-war speaker since during the Vietnam war period and during the US/Iraqi war. He was a co-founder of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at the University of California, Berkeley and the Coalition on Political Assassinations.

In addition to his book with Jonathan Marshall, which I’ve mentioned, Cocaine Politics, his other prose books include: The War Conspiracy, The Assassinations: Dallas and Beyond, Crime and Cover-up: The CIA, The Mafia and The Dallas Watergate Connection, The Iran-Contra Connection which was also co-authored with Jonathan, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK and Deep Politics 2. Peter is also renowned in his work in poetry. He’s the author of a trilogy, “Seculum,” Coming to Jakarta, Listening to the Candle, and Minding the Darkness; and also, Crossing Borders.

I also want to point out that he’s brought with him copies of a new study that he’s completed, which brings the Cocaine Politics book analysis up to date, and there are copies upstairs, for those of you who would like to purchase a copy, and I recommend it. So I’m very please to introduce Peter Dale Scott. [applause]

Peter Dale Scott

Thank you very much, David. Thank you for mentioning that I’m a poet. I’d like to begin by saying that sometimes it’s helpful to be a poet and look at what’s going on in society, because as a poet I believe metaphors are important, very important. In fact, most of you wouldn’t believe how important I think they are.

And we have a metaphor here, “the war on drugs,” which is perhaps the most dangerous and pernicious metaphor that we have afoot in our society today. Imagine if we had a different metaphor. Say, if we’re talking about a society that is addicted or a society that is sick or something, it would point us in a completely different direction.

If we talk about a war on drugs we have to figure out who are going to be our warriors, people like General McCaffrey, and who are we going to fight. And essentially, the primary targets of this war on drugs have been teenagers in this country and peasants abroad. We’ve talked about a national security threat here as if we’re threatened by peasants in Bolivia, and we have turned life upside down in Third World countries, and it has been accompanied by increasing violence.

We know about the violence at home, the SWAT teams, the search and seizure. It’s unsafe to go out in certain neighborhoods at night, not because there are criminals, but because there are these DEA/SWAT teams that may come, force you down on the ground, totally ignore your human rights, and so on. It’s even worse in the Third World.

So I think if we could end this terrible metaphor—war on drugs—it would set us on a better course. But of course that’s really asking for a structural change in this society, because that metaphor is rooted in a society that reaches to violence to solve problems.

I’m going to talk quite a lot about the CIA today but I want to agree not exactly but roughly with what Alex said. This is not just the story of the CIA. I’m going to be talking a lot about recent revelations, starting with Gary Webb in 1996 about—Let me just ask now, how many people know something about what Gary Webb said in 1996? Well that’s very helpful, because then I won’t tell you something that you already know.

Audience Member

Who’s Gary Webb? [laughter]

Peter Dale Scott

We’ll get to this in a moment. What Gary Webb was talking about, the CIA’s army, the Contras, and how Contras were continuously aligning themselves in one way or another with drug traffickers, and how this radically increased the flow of drugs, primarily cocaine, into this country.

But I want to say that the problem is not just the CIA here. It is a U.S. Government policy and it wasn’t—other agencies also involved, the military, the DEA and then certain private elements, which were relatively low scale in the Contra era, but which we should really focus on because they’re becoming extremely important in our new millenium as we go off to fight wars in Kosovo and Colombia.

Anyway, the primary decision which led, I think, to this unholy alliance between the Contras and drug traffic, was made in the White House. In fact, it was probably made by some of Reagan’s electoral backers. We had an extraordinary number of war criminals from Central America who turned up at Reagan’s Inaugural in 1981, because a lot of money from Latin America flowed into his electoral coffers, and he had promised and he delivered a war against the left, particularly in Nicaragua. And the first alliance was made with Argentina.

Well, it was no secret that the way Argentina ran these things, it was their modus operandi, was to fund their foreign covert operations from the drug traffic. So we made a decision to ally ourselves, initially it was not going to be primarily Americans on the ground, it was going to be the Argentines who would have run it, but Americans came down to be liaison, and the first people that they made contact were various military figures in Central America, all of whom had connections to drugs. This was before the CIA took over from the Argentines after the Falkland Wars. The Falkland Islands War in which, eventually, America decided it had to side with Britain rather than Argentina, and that led essentially to the withdrawal of the Argentines from the Contra scene.

But it was just one phase, as Alex had said, in a continuous practice of when you want to go and stir up trouble, mischief, violence abroad, you ally yourself with people who are powerful in those regions of the Third World. And time after time after time these powerful people, the people who have the funds, the people who have the troops on the ground have been local drug traffickers. This was the case in Central America.

Now a lot of this has been admitted but the usual defense in the national press was, well, yes, we did have these unfortunate alliances, but it didn’t make much of a difference to what’s happening in the United States. This is absolutely false, and I would like to start with the example of Afghanistan.

In 1979, which is the year that I’m afraid to say [President] Carter and his national security advisor, Brezhinsky, whom I went to college with, decided to back guerillas in Afghanistan who already had heroin labs. It was not secret about how they were supporting themselves. We made that decision in 1979. How much of their heroin was coming to this country? None.

By 1984, and this is according to Reagan’s State Department, 54 percent of the heroin coming into this country was coming from the Pakistani/Afghan border. It was coming from those same heroin labs that I’ve just been talking about. And actually the trucks that took CIA materiel and assistants and advisors up into the region, were the same trucks that brought the heroin back out. So it went to 54 percent. So you can’t say that it’s not a problem.

I’m going to talk in a minute or two about a single CIA asset in Central America, one Ramon Matta-Ballasteros, who was a trafficker in Honduras, which was, by coincidence, where the heart of the CIA-backed Contra effort was. And the CIA used his airline, SETCO, to supply the FDN camps. That was the main Contra faction in Honduras. So that the CIA was protecting Matta-Ballasteros.

Was this a big problem? You bet it was, because the DEA at this time had already pinpointed a single cartel which they said was responsible for maybe a third to a half of the cocaine coming into this country. When they first made the estimate, they saw four big people in the cartel, three of whom were Colombian and one was Matta-Ballasteros—a Honduran who spent a good deal of his time in Colombia. But by 1985, they had decided that Matta-Ballasteros was the most important of the four.

And by 1985, the DEA had another reason to hate Matta-Ballasteros and to want to get him, which was the murder of one of their agents in Mexico, Enrique Camarena. And in the end Matta-Ballasteros was brought to this country and convicted, not of the murder but of the kidnapping. Because they had tapes of the meeting in which they heard Matta-Ballasteros meeting in Mexico, and this gives you a clue to what Mexico is like, with not only a bunch of the top drug traffickers, others also of whom these drug traffickers supported the Contras in various ways, but also top police officials from Mexico City, including one who was named the Chief of Mexico City Police years after this happened and years after he had been identified by the DEA as one of the people who were there, and this was under the supposed Reform Administration of President Salinas de Gortari.

So when I’d say that the people on the scene are part of the problem, the right-wing elements, and the way those societies have become organized is a way which incorporates drug traffickers into the ruling structure of those countries.

The Sandinistas in Nicaragua tried to put an end to that largely because the Guardia Nacionale under Samosa was so deeply implicated with the drug traffic, with prostitution, with all of the leading criminal operations in Nicaragua, that even the Bishops had united to say “please do something to end this kind of regime.” So, ironically, you had a lot of church people backing the Sandinistas, and the drug people, of course, trying to restore the status quo ante as soon as possible, and the consistent policy of the U.S. Government. But, here I do have to say, the CIA, in particular, was to back the elements of the old national guard who had been involved in these traffics for a long time. To make them predominate over other reformists who, like Edin Pastora, who became alienated from the Sandinistas, wanted to join an anti-Sandinista effort but wanted nothing to do with the criminals in the FDN which was the CIA’s faction, which was the Guardia Nacionale faction. And a good deal of the very complicated Contra politics of the 1980s, is the CIA trying to force the old Guardia Nacionale and Enrique Bermudez, in particular, down the throats of a much more complicated scene on the anti-Sandinista side, many of whom wanted nothing to do with that.

Well now we come to the Gary Webb allegations. Who was Gary Webb? If you want to know, if you really don’t know who Gary Webb is, you should buy this book upstairs. [laughter]

Audience Member

He was a reporter for the San Jose . . . if you had identified him by his, what he did, I’d know.

Peter Dale Scott

Yes, he was. He had stories in the San Jose Mercury in August, 1986, which alleged, in sum, that there had been two drug traffickers, Norwin Meneses and Danilo Blandon, both Nicaraguans, who had met Enrique Bermudez, the head of the FDN, way back in 1981 just as all of this was getting started. And Enrique Bermudez had said—and this is conceded by Blandon—“the end justifies the means. You will find a way to support us.” And even Meneses who says—Blandon says, yes he did say that. Meneses said, “no, I never heard anything like that.” But even Manassas said, “yes, we worked out an arrangement whereby we would support the Contras.” Well, who was Meneses at the time? [He was] the number one drug trafficker from Nicaragua, and everybody knew it, and certainly Bermudez knew it.

So that was how all of this got started. And Meneses sold the cocaine wholesale, very wholesale to Blandon; Blandon sold it to a black [man] called Ricky Ross, who was responsible for turning it into crack and selling it in South Central L.A. And Gary Webb relied very heavily on a story in the Los Angeles Times from two years earlier that had called Ricky Ross the “king of crack.” It was a story by a man called Jesse Katz. And he said if there was ever anyone who was responsible for the crack epidemic in this country it was Ricky Ross. Well, Ricky Ross, at that time, was getting most of his cocaine from Blandon, who was getting his cocaine from Meneses.

And then the next thing that Webb said, and it turned out to be true, was that as long as there were Contras, the law enforcement people, although they knew everything about what Blandon and Meneses were doing, they couldn’t touch them. They were untouchable. And it was only after the Contra support effort ended with a Congressional vote in 1988 that finally the U.S. authorities moved against Blandon. They got Blandon to become an informant and they set up, and that’s the word, Ricky Ross. So the black dealer at the bottom of the totem pole, Ricky Ross, ended up with a life sentence, which he’s serving now. Blandon was let off for this heroic act of turning in one of the people he sold to. And Meneses was never touched by the Americans at all, but he went back to Nicaragua and was caught flagrante delicto with a load of heroin by the Nicaraguans and was arrested there. And in Nicaragua, the press called him “El Rey De La Cocaina”—the king of cocaine. Nice people. Whoops, I have two minutes. Whoa.

Well. Now I’m going to have to change what I was going to say. How many people, those of you who do know about Gary Webb, know that the House Committee on Intelligence recently produced a report which says there’s nothing to his stories? How many people knew that? How many people saw my op-ed in the Chronicle on Monday? It’s the same people largely.

Well, I’m very concerned about this because the only time that the American people really became aware that something terrible is being done to them, and CIA policies and government policies are a factor in this terrible thing, was over these Gary Webb stories. They were not perfect. I could have criticized; I did criticize one or two things in them myself. But in its broad outline, everything that I’ve reported to you today from what he said has been admitted not only by the Department of Justice in their “Inspector General’s Report” but even by the CIA. The CIA Inspector General, Fred Hitz, did two reports totaling about 700 pages or so.

I mean it’s heavy slogging through, it but I have slogged through it and I have summarized them in here [laughter] and the summaries of those reports are pretty mealy-mouthed. But the contents of the reports reveal things like, well, we come back to Matta-Ballasteros for example. The Justice Department came over and said to the CIA, “what do you have on this airline SETCO?” And they sent back a flat out lie. They said, “there are no records of a SETCO Air.” And not only did they lie way back then, but when Fred Hitz was trying to find out who wrote this, everyone said “it wasn’t me, it was that guy” and this guy said, “well, yes, I wrote it but I never heard of SETCO.” And then the third guy said, “well the second guy actually used to go to the SETCO Headquarters quite often.”

So there was lying not only then, there was lying in the last couple of years and those of you who remember John Deutsch in South Central L.A., he said “if we find any wrongdoing those people will be punished, I promise you.”

Audience Member

They were liars.

Peter Dale Scott

So the promise is still there. And it’s up to people, like the people in this room, whether a House report that comes in, it’s full of lies, I list the lies in my book. They say that no one in the FDN would never have taken any drug monies. The Hitz Report is full. It names the names of FDN leaders who were suspected of drug trafficking. There was a statutory requirement to suspend aid to any group whose members had been found to be guilty of drug trafficking. And the FDN was certainly true of this in that statutory period, but the CIA went blindly ahead.

So the question is, whether people, like the people in this room, will insist on the truth coming out, on their being a factual accounting. We don’t have the whole of the Hitz Reports yet. The second report looks into Southern Air Transport, which may have been the biggest drug trafficker of all, a former CIA proprietary. And there’s only one page in the Hitz Report, because I think they’ve censored the rest. So we need to get those reports and, believe me, we need to get Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, who’s name is on this report, to repudiate this report. The Chair of her Committee was a former CIA officer. The Chief of Staff. How did she ever accept a Chief of Staff, a former CIA officer who spent 13 years working with those heroin—trafficking Afghan guerillas I was just talking about? How does somebody like that end up being in charge of a report that whitewashes the CIA?

And let me just say, echoing something Alex said, this is my last sentence, may be a long one, but it’s my last sentence [laughter]. If we don’t stop this thing here at home, we are going to see a war on drugs destabilize the whole of Central America, which achieved peace in the 1980s by keeping U.S. troops out; and now we’re sending them back in under the guise of the war on drugs and Colombia is going to be another Vietnam if we don’t stop it by stopping the lie on which it is based. And I could say so much more about that, but maybe we’ll come back to that in the questions. Thank you. [applause]

David Theroux

Thank you. Thank you, Peter. I should mention that in the packets that, if you’ve got a packet, there is a copy of Peter’s, the Op-Ed we placed in the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday that Peter wrote. And if you don’t have it, we can get a copy for you. Our third speaker—pardon me?

Peter Dale Scott

Did you get a copy for me?

David Theroux


Our third speaker as I mentioned earlier is Jonathan Marshall, former Economics Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. He also authored the weekly column on Economics at the Chronicle. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in History with distinction. Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University. And Masters Degree in American History with honors from Cornell University.

Jonathan has been studying the drug traffic and drug policy issue for many years. As a college student he published a pioneering [paper], it’s called “The Study of the Development of the Opiate Traffic in Nationalist China,” which shed new light on the origins of the U.S. intelligence complicity in the world narcotics business as far back as World War II. When he was at Stanford, he worked with the historian Bart Bernstein, who’s also one of the advisors to our journal, The Independent Review.

As editorial page editor of the Oakland Tribune, he wrote a noted series of editorials, which won a very distinguished award I should mention, calling for serious consideration of drug legalization, a position that was widely condemned by then U.S. Attorney Joseph Riccionelli. Mr. Riccionelli was later exposed as the U.S. Attorney who, at the CIA’s request, returned $36,000 that had been seized from a supporter of the Nicaraguan Contras who was a major defendant in one of the West Coast’s biggest cocaine cases.

As a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, Jonathan wrote investigative stories that uncovered drug trafficking crimes by a leading Israeli Cabinet Member and by Nicaraguan [drug] trafficker and Contra supporter who already been mentioned—Norwin Meneses, who was later the subject of, as Peter said, Gary Webb’s exposé in the San Jose Mercury News.

Among other books, including Cocaine Politics, Jonathan is co-author of The Iran-Contra Connection, and author of the book on drug policy Drug Wars: Corruption Counter-insurgency and Covert Operations in the Third World, a book which is more relevant, we believe, today than ever, in light of the Clinton Administration’s apparent determination to, indeed, turn Colombia into what could become another Vietnam.

I’m also pleased that Jonathan was involved in a book project that I organized back in the early ‘80s that was published called Dealing With Drugs, and for which we won our International Book Award. I’m glad to present Jonathan Marshall. [applause]


DEA Chief Robert Bonner said CIA Smuggled Drugs

L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."—Senator John Kerry (1996)

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. -1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, CIA Headquarters
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Jonathan Marshall

Thank you, David. There are really, I think, broadly defined, two drug problems in the United States. One is the problem of drug misuse, frequently termed “drug abuse,” which was a strange term. The thought of us abusing these drugs, but as Alex said there is a real problem there. It’s a medical and social problem. Very real. There are people who die from drugs. There are people who are born with drug problems, so called “crack babies” and so on.

But the other problem, which I think is every bit as large and much more easily controllable, is the enormous social problem from what we call drug enforcement, and it’s really better, I think, thought of as drug prohibition. No one is really making war on drugs. They’re making war on people. People who take drugs. People who engage in the commerce around drugs and so on.

And the nature of this so-called drug war is to abet violence in our society, corruption, the promotion of organized crime and vast underground markets, the diversion of ever increasing resources in the criminal justice system and military agencies to this fight, the enormous environmental harm that was alluded to in the Third World, where drug crops are grown and where U.S. programs are involved in wholesale spraying and use of toxins and viral agents and other things to destroy crops.

On to the enormous medical harm caused by the diversion of these markets into underground channels, where unscrupulous dealers cut drugs with unknown agents and so forth. And addicts use dirty needles promoting the AIDS epidemic, and a number of other enormous health problems.

Another enormous casualty of this so called drug war is one, that’s, I think, common to all wars, and that is truth. The kind of lying and hypocrisy that has been talked about by my predecessors on this panel are really endemic to this whole war on drugs, and have been, just pervaded the entire government approach.

I want to talk today a little bit about some of the domestic consequences of the war on drugs that I think are forcing a lot of people to rethink the social costs and the kind of wisdom of continuing crime policies.

The first point – I remember first learning in school about the scientific method, and how you test hypotheses. And when they are clearly disproven you move on and try another hypothesis. For decades we’ve been experimenting—we’ve been testing the hypothesis that law enforcement would somehow diminish the availability of drugs and, thus, the social acceptance of drugs. It seems to me that’s a hypothesis that’s been clearly disproven.

Just to take an example, from 1985 to 1995 the Federal Drug Control budget increased from about $2.5 billion to more than $13 billion—a pretty healthy rise. Over the same period, the percentage of high school seniors who said that marijuana was easily available rose from 85 percent to 90 percent, and it’s continued to rise. Similarly, the fraction of seniors who said heroin was easily available, rose to about a third in 1988 from about 19 percent in 1979.

Looking abroad, the expenditure of over $600 million in counter-narcotics programs in Colombia, which is soon to be dwarfed by the Clinton Administration’s proposed massive interventions, from 1990 to 1998, led to Colombia replacing Peru and Bolivia as the major source of cocaine in Latin America. Now there was a great victory for law enforcement.

The biggest test of drug availability is a simple economic one. What’s the price? And there, the evidence is pretty compelling that the price of drugs has fallen dramatically. A gram of cocaine cost only $44 in 1998 on the street, down from $191 in 1981. Heroin prices had been $1,200 per gram in 1981. They fell to only $318 per gram. In fact, heroin became so cheap that people started smoking it. So, in effect, traffickers are saying when supply goes up, price goes down; and supply has gone up plentifully.

Anyone who thinks for even a couple of minutes about the issue of drug interdiction to which we spend countless billions of dollars will quickly realize what a hopeless task it is and what a fundamentally dishonest task it is. The United States has 20,000 kilometers of coast line, more than 7,500 miles of border with Mexico and Canada. No army in the world could keep drugs out.

(inaudible)—border people can produce methamphetamines in their bathtubs. Indeed a single suitcase of phentanol, which is a synthetic opiate, would be enough—it’s so powerful, a suitcase full could basically supply the entire U.S. addict population for a year. So drug interdiction is at it’s heart. The only reason we buy drugs from abroad is because of cheap labor. It’s cheaper to produce it abroad. But if the price went up a little bit we’d produce it at home. It’s called “import substitution.”

So what are some of these social costs? Some of these have been alluded to, for example, the enormous erosion of civil liberties. When you look at almost every Supreme Court case that has eroded Fourth Amendment protections against searches and seizures, almost invariably, they involve drug searches. And the reason is simple. There’s no victim around to tell the police a crime occurred. The only way the police can find out that a crime occurred is by seizing property, invading people’s cars, their homes, and so forth, on minimal cause to find evidence of a crime.

I think it’s an interesting statistic that in 1996, 71 percent of all wire taps were authorized for state and federal narcotics enforcement. In contrast only 2.8 percent of wire taps were for kidnapping, extortion, larceny, theft, loan sharking, usury and bribery combined.

And lastly, just one little point, those of you who remember Watergate, the infamous “plumber’s squad,” which was at the heart of the Nixon operations, actually had it’s origins as an extra-constitutional White House-led anti-narcotics squad which became adept at breaking and entering, and then was put to other uses.

We’re all aware of Third World corruption. Corruption has been quite pervasive in the United States as well, due to the millions and billions of dollars available by traffickers to corrupt law enforcement. Half of all police officers convicted as a result of FBI-led corruption cases between 1993 and 1997, were for drug related offenses.

One of the most obvious social costs of the war on drugs are clogged jails and prisons. In 1973, there were 300,000 arrests for drug law violations. By 1996, that number had risen to 1.5 million—a five fold increase thanks to the war on drugs over that period. Three quarters of those arrests were for simple possession of a controlled substance, not even for sale or manufacturing of the drugs.

By 1995, a quarter of all adults serving time in jails and prisons were there for drug law violations. The growth in the prison population from 1985 to 1995, over 80 percent of that increase, was due to drug convictions. And so on it goes. By the late ‘90s, the cost of incarcerating all the people who are there simply for drug crimes had risen to about $9 billion a year. But if all this were really doing a lot to decrease real crime and make people feel safer, there might be a point in spending all that money. But many authorities have found quite the contrary, and two economists who David mentioned earlier, Bruce Benson and David Rasmussen, have actually studied the data, and they show that the diversion of law enforcement to fighting drug crimes away from other more significant violent crimes, has actually led to a reduction in law enforcement of things like murders, assaults, etc. The kinds of crimes most people feel threatened by.

And numerous other authorities remind anyone who cares to listen, that crimes that are induced by drug-altered states are far more common with alcohol than they are with illicit drugs, that people get thrown behind bars for life.

But the ideology of the war on drugs has been so penetrating and so pervasive and so rigidly enforced by the government, that even credible experts have been silenced. And the most notable case I think are medical experts who, to take an example that David mentioned earlier, overwhelmingly medical experts agree that there are important medical uses for cannabis—reducing nausea from chemotherapy or AIDS drugs is a classic example—and there are many others. And yet the Federal Government has systematically, and this includes the Clinton Administration, suppressed even government reports from medical authorities. The Institute of Medicine, and many others, have had reports suppressed, because drug czars believe that this role, somehow, will weaken our resolve to fight the war on drugs.

Similarly, the Federal Government bitterly resists needle swapping programs. Roughly half of all AIDS cases in the United States result from intravenous drug use and the passing of contaminated needles. Every study on the book shows that clean needle programs would reduce the incidence of this horrible epidemic, but the White House refuses to budge on the issue.

Similarly countries in Europe, Australia, and so on are much freer in their use of methadone programs to help opiate addicts, and these programs are usually suppressed in the U.S. Government.

Treatment programs receive very little support in total fraction of government resources in the so-called war on drugs. And one report by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration showed that about half of the need for treatment goes unmet in the United States. And this comes despite overwhelming evidence the treatment is effective, not only in reducing drug use and in reducing crimes committed by addicts, but also even in such things as treatment that tends to reduce welfare use by 10 percent, increase employment 20 percent a year after treatment. So there’s a whole range of areas that are improved by treatment programs.

Treatment, of course, costs far less than imprisonment. To imprison a drug criminal costs on the order of close to $25,000 a year, compared to treatment costs of about $2,000 to $6,000 a year.

The Rand Corporation, which no one can view as a group of softies, estimated in the mid-‘90s that a dollar invested in drug treatment produced social returns on that investment of about $7.50, because of the reduction in crime and other sorts of problems. By contrast, they found that a dollar invested in controlling drugs in Third World source countries result in a social loss of 85 cents. A dollar invested in interdiction resulted in a social loss of 68 cents. A dollar invested in domestic law enforcement led to a loss of 48 cents. These are pretty compelling numbers. Normally, one would expect fiscal conservatives to care about such numbers, but we don’t see much of that from our current leadership.

Well, what are the alternatives? The most radical one, which is almost never discussed is, because people are afraid of the “L” word, is legalization. And this is, indeed, a fairly radical proposal. It would, based philosophically on the notion that people have the right to make choices about their own lives as long as they aren’t fouling up other people’s lives.

And I don’t want to push the legalization argument here too strongly, but I think there are a couple of facts worth remembering. One is that before 1914, drugs were largely legal, and there was not a gigantic addict population. There were people taking these little elixirs that Alex was referring to. Mostly, they were functioning members of society. No one really knows for sure how many addicts there were, but some estimates put it as low as about quarter of a million. Certainly the United States had a sustained period of economic growth throughout this whole period of drug legalization.

Some recent work by economists who’ve studied the effect of changing prices on drug demand estimated the decriminalization of cocaine might lead to about 260,000 new users, and decriminalization of heroin might lead to about 47,000 new heroin users. These would certainly create social or medical problems. I’d hardly consider those numbers to be radically undermining of our society.

Probably, a more politically palatable alternative is often named “harm reduction.” The notion here is to reduce the kind of wholesale incarceration of small-time drug users to promote treatment as an alternative. It seems kind of criminal when there are people begging for treatment that society doesn’t provide slots for them. That would condone the medical uses of drugs where prescribed by doctors, that would permit kind of hard-core drug users to receive heroin or methadone without resorting to black markets and the dangers of contaminated drugs, and so on.

Programs like this are not just theoretical. They’ve been tried in Europe and Switzerland, in Holland, and so forth. And careful scientific studies of the results have shown remarkably good effects. They don’t show that drug use stops in these countries. They show that the kind of ancillary social harm that comes from enforcement is enormously reduced. That crime is reduced. That the health effects of drug use are enormously reduced. And that the problem becomes manageable rather than a severe social problem.

I think there is hope in that a growing number of Americans are beginning to look to examples abroad of programs like this. There’s hope in the fact that even stalwarts of the drug war from the Reagan era, like George Schultz, have started talking about drug legalization. A growing number of people are giving—are lending a certain intellectual respectability to this. You see them at the Hoover Institution, National Review magazine, some people on the left, and that gives me hope that ultimately the American people will be able to change policy, but it is an extraordinarily hard fight against, as Alex said, very entrenched state interests in maintaining the drug war as it is for some very pernicious reasons. Thank you. [applause]

David Theroux

Thank you, Jonathan. We’d like to open it up to your questions. If you just wait for Carl, who has the microphone and – OK.

Audience Member #1

I’d like to ask this question of Jonathan: Is he encouraged with a proposed policy that candidates for the Police Department, no longer have their prior drug arrests as a relevant factor in becoming police officers? In other words, police officers who’ve served time for drug offenses will now be enforcing the drug law. Wouldn’t that make them more compassionate in their application? [laughter]

Jonathan Marshall

I’m not terribly hopeful, though. There seem to be two schools of thought as the baby boom generation which, many of whom took drugs in their youth or early adulthood, move into positions of power. Some of them are perhaps more compassionate and see the hypocrisy of brutal crackdowns on others who have engaged in activities really no more severe than they did in their youth.

The other reaction is to try to forget about their own past, as Al Gore seems to have managed and others. And become “holier than thou” in this drug war, if you’ll pardon my mixed metaphor. One of the problems with the police is that the incentive structure the police face [relies] heavily [towards] supports [of] the war on drugs, and that goes to things like asset forfeiture laws which directly support the growth of police departments.

And indeed some of the economists I mentioned have shown that what the rise in the drug war in the mid-‘80s was directly related to Federal law, which shared proceeds from asset forfeitures with local police departments. Lo and behold, it’s not very surprising that they followed their incentives. And so unless those incentives are changed, I’m not too hopeful that the change in the mix of police officers will help.

Audience Member #2

Well, we just started to talk about incentives, and I don’t think there’s been a real discussion about money. If you could apply the term “follow the money” to any of your points of views would you have something to say about that phrase “follow the money” as it relates to the global drug threat?

Peter Dale Scott

If I’d had time, I would have talked about the international flows of money. Twice, once in the early ‘80s and, again, in the mid-‘90s, Mexico was on the point of defaulting on all its loans, and in fact, announced that it would. And, twice, the American Government came through with emergency loans. I think in the Clinton case, it was done overnight; really, $40 billion. That money was lent on the assumption that it would be repaid.

In the first case, in the early ‘80s, the CIA actually did a study on how much of Mexico’s foreign exchange earnings come from drugs. And the answer is actually reproduced photographically, their report in James Mills’ book, The Underground Empire. They ran two countries together which sort of fudges it a bit. They said these foreign exchange earnings of just two countries, Colombia and Mexico, probably 75 percent come from drugs.

Well, if, supposing Mexico had defaulted. Supposing they hadn’t had that 75 percent coming from drugs. Three or four of your top banks in this country would have been technically bankrupt. So you have to ask, what does a bank president think about drugs coming through Mexico?

The second example is in 1994; the figures this time come from the Mexican side. The Mexican Attorney General reported $28 billion of foreign exchange earnings—we’re not just talking the money here—but the important thing: money that you can pay back to the United States; $28 billion from drugs, probably more than the sale of all other commodities, such as oil for example, combined.

Now I tested this on a vice president of a very well known bank—I don’t want to put her on the spot—but a bank that was definitely exposed in this debt situation. She didn’t know about the 1980s, but when I began to talk about the 1990s, she cut me off and she said, “oh, that was drug money.” So the banks know that’s how they’re getting their banks. The one country that never had to reschedule its debts in the 1980s in Latin America was Colombia. [laughter]

David Theroux

Alex, did you want to say something?

Alexander Cockburn

Oh, no, I was going to say it’s been absolutely marvelous to follow down the years the U.S. press which reports these sting operations of Mexican banks, and the incredible silence they’ve kept on the fact that U.S. banks have been deeply involved in money washing, as indeed [Ramon} Milan-Rodriguez, who’s now serving in a Federal penitentiary who was a money washer accountant for the Medellin Cartel. He was arrested in the U.S., I think carrying at the time $10 million. And he had spreadsheets showing how much money he was bringing in. Contributions made to various political campaigns. My brother made a film for WGBH on it. Milan-Rodriguez—very articulate, well-educated bloke, talked about it, but, again, it’s one of those subjects that you run across quite frequently where no matter how often it’s pointed out or said in slightly non-official publications—it will always stay off the official agenda.

David Theroux

Other questions? Gentleman over here?

Audience Member #3

Yeah. Speaking of Mexico, for the first time it looks like they have a horse race for the presidential election. Is there anything out there that suggests that the Vicente Fox and PAN will be any less corrupt than de Prede?

Peter Dale Scott

I’m not really an expert on Mexico, but I gather that PAN some time ago sort of, just like PRI, dissolved into two factions. One with the so-called bureaucrats who run the so-called dinosaurs, who were—the bigger drug traffickers were the dinosaurs side. Although I must say the Salinas de Gortari family seems to have done pretty well, as bureaucrats, out of this. And the PAN also is split into the people who genuinely oppose this whole system in PAN, who I gather are not major players. And then people like Fox, who have learned how to play the game. And the people I talked to are not sure that it’s really going to be terribly different if Fox is elected, and it seems quite likely that he will be.

Jonathan Marshall

Actually, can I just add?

There’s sometimes a rather arrogant supposition on the part of U.S. authorities and U.S. press that all it takes is some order from a head of state who’s really not corrupt to stop the drug traffic. If you read occasional accounts in the New York Times or elsewhere about what happens to those brave but rather foolhardy Mexican drug agents who aren’t corrupt and you end up beheaded. And I won’t go through all the grizzly details, but a Mexican president can’t just order an end to the drug traffic. With the billions of dollars at stake, it’s so central to their economy, as Peter said. These are structural problems. They will never be solved by simply a change of government or a wish to end corruption.

Audience Member #4

What I don’t understand is how with a General as the head of the war on drugs, we constantly violate one of the principles of war that the military men are taught, which is to reinforce success and abandon failure. [laughter]

____: Vietnam (inaudible).

David Theroux

Anyone want to comment on that?

____: That’s a good question. That’s a good question.

____: We don’t understand the (inaudible).

Alexander Cockburn

Well, it comes down to what you define as success. If success is counter-insurgency abroad and social control at home, then you could argue the drug war is a success on those terms. [applause]

Peter Dale Scott

Can I add to that? And this is from our book Cocaine Politics, that the military realized after Vietnam, that foreign engagements were going to be very unpopular. And they actually scratched their heads. “How can we sell foreign engagements to the American people?” And a man called Gragglestein, a Colonel, Marine, Special Forces Commander, Colonel, said that the way to sell it to the American people is to declare that the enemy are narco-terrorists. And we quote about a paragraph on page one—if those of you who bought the book Cocaine Politics, page 198, you can see how this—he said, “This will give us the moral high ground and we’ll silence our opponents.”

This actually goes back to 1974 when, up until then, the United States had been voting every year [to give] aid to police forces in Latin America. When the facts came out about the amount of torture that the people we had trained were inflicting on their people, Congress terminated that kind of police assistance. But the same year they, other people said, “well, we can start giving drug assistance to the same countries,” and the amount of drug assistance that was voted was roughly equal to the amount of police assistance which had just been cancelled. So it’s been hypocrisy from the very beginning. But I think Alex’s point is a good one. The main objective is to keep the military in this, and also, police, by the way and for that matter, in this kind of business (inaudible).

Audience Member #5

As much as I appreciate this analysis of the symptoms of the drug war, I must observe and ask your comment on this. I feel that the Prohibition or whatever, or a crusade against whomever, has been the great political success of the last thousand years, whether we look at the Crusades, whether we look at the Spanish Inquisition, or whether we look at the Prohibition of alcohol, Prohibition itself is a runaway political success. It is the means, the operative means, by which we give the lie to Abraham Lincoln—

David Theroux

Do you have a question?

Audience Member #5

This is a question. I ask for your comments on this. I’m being a little provocative. Abraham Lincoln said you couldn’t fool all the people all the time, but now we can fool enough of the people enough of the time. May I ask for comments on that please?

Peter Dale Scott

Well I don’t want to do all the talking, but the Crusades were a way of keeping a totally dysfunctional class of warrior-knights going for a little bit longer than they should have. [laughter] I think the kings liked the Crusades because it got the warrior-knights off your own land and onto somebody else’s land. But I hardly see it as a very progressive element.

Spain really suffered for the Inquisition, which drove the creative middle class elements out of Spain and turned what, at the time, was probably the most progressive country in Europe into the most backward in a matter of 300 years.

So these are analogies we should think about very seriously but they’re not—you can’t put them under the rubric of success stories.

Jonathan Marshall

Politically they were.

Audience Member #5

Yeah, he will.

David Theroux

It’s true. They have, obviously prohibition has existed and the question is why and how do we deal with it?

Audience Member #6

My question is –

David Theroux

Well, this, I’m sorry, this gentleman here.

Audience Member #7

Thank you. My question is to all three speakers. I’d like a definition of state, that is, how did this great American country get so corrupt? And the second part of that question is: what is your opinion on sort of the unifying hypothesis put forward by L. Fletcher Prouty to account for the post, at least part of what’s happening in the post-war period?

David Theroux

Anyone take that first?

Audience Member #8

Could you give the speakers a mic?

David Theroux

Yeah, they have them.

Alexander Cockburn

Well, I was using the state in the sense of the combination of interests, who hold the power, exercise the power of coercion and governorship in the sense of the dominant class as represented by government, which is it’s executive committee, which all Marxists will recognize as the tag from the radical past. I can’t remember what L. Fletcher Prouty said. I don’t believe most of what L. Fletcher Prouty says, so I mean I think I’d probably disagree with whatever he did say [laughter] although I don’t want to; I mean he’s the secret team guy in a way, yeah.

I always think the team is open. It’s not secret. I think I might differ with my trusted colleagues here. But people talk about secret government. I think it’s fairly obvious who the villains are; their faces appear in the newspaper every day. Where is secrecy needed? They’re there. We can look at them all the time.

Audience Member #9

Whom are you labeling?

Alexander Cockburn

Well, I think Fletcher Prouty—the thesis, by and large, is that there is a covert team running the show. It’s a slight—I think a cousin of the idea that the CIA is a rogue agency—that there are forces at work. I mean, it’s a long strain in analysis, whether it’s the Freemasons or this or the Jews or [laughter] somebody is doing it and we don’t know who they are.

I tend to generally disagree with that and say that the people who you think are running the show, by and large, you can identify them. You can identify the class interests. You can identify the economic interests and there they are. And you don’t need to scuffle under the bed and find a Freemason or a secret Teamster or whoever it is. [laughter] Because we know they’re there.

Peter Dale Scott

I actually wrote a book on this subject called Deep Politics, and I must be a fairly bristly character because I managed to disagree with people like Alex Cockburn on the one hand who said, it’s all perfectly obvious, there’s a structure there. And I also managed to disagree explicitly with Fletcher Prouty who says there is a secret team who is, or a secret government, managing everything behind the scenes.

I do believe that there are, what I call deep political considerations here. But part of the problem is that there are certain things that go on in our society that we don’t want to talk about. And one of them, which Alex did talk about, but most people don’t, is that the CIA has been in bed with criminals from the time it got started. Local police forces, it’s often the same thing, that a very convenient way to run parts of the city that you have trouble getting into is to tolerate the existence of organized gangs who do it for you, and if they’re selling cocaine, heroin, they’d rather have—let me tell you, this is a fact, they’d rather have heroin dealers in South—cocaine dealers in South Central LA than have Black Panthers, that’s for sure. [laughter] And this is not a joke.

So what ends up is that things are going on that we do not acknowledge and we do not talk about, and believe me our present drug crisis in this country is something which we never talk about honestly. If you see a politician get on a TV camera talking about drugs, you can expect it’s going to be empty rhetoric, because very often that politician may have a partner in a law firm who helped get him elected because of the amount of business he was bringing the people who are part of the drug trade.

So I just can sum it up. It’s not a secret team that’s somehow outside of the system. It definitely is the system, but not all of the system is up there on the TV camera for you to look at. And if you look into the financing of parties and things like that, that drives that home.

Jonathan Marshall

If I could just actually just emphasize that. I think there’s a kind of happy middle ground there. Much as Peter said, and I think a great example is when the Justice Department in the early 1990s made a deal with the CIA, literally saying that the CIA did not have to inform the Justice Department about crimes being committed by its agents, or people the CIA was working with. This is about as blatant, hypocritical act, at the very time that the Reagan Administration was proclaiming the war on drugs, the Justice Department was explicitly letting off the hook, all the people working with the CIA.

So we had not a cabal in the CIA doing this but the Justice Department doing it. The CIA was acting in accordance with Reagan Administration policy. It was all being done in secret, lest this offend the American people. But the even bigger irony is now that it’s public, how many newspapers have reported this. I think Alex may have written a column on this taking the L.A. Times to task and—

Audience Member

It was published in the L.A. Times.

Jonathan Marshall

But it wasn’t the news pages of the L.A. Times or other papers telling us this. So that’s the kind of mind-boggling scandal of my former profession that’s rather heartbreaking.

Audience Member #11

My question is or please remind me what the participation at the end of Prohibition because I’m curious how much corruption as drawn back in the ‘30s as we have now, and somehow it’s (inaudible) and public opinion was changed.

Alexander Cockburn

People have mentioned Prohib—I think it was, sorry—the changed atmosphere just before the second World War, right, and the fact that, I mean I’d like to put a defense of Prohibition, let’s face it. [laughter] Jonathan said that when drugs were legal was a period of growth. But what about the ‘20s, period of unparalleled growth and ebullience in American society accompanied by Prohibition.

Health. In terms of health, Prohibition was rather a success actually. I’ll give you some examples. Cirrhosis of the liver was running at 16 per hundred thousand in 1900, By 1930, after a period of Prohibition, it was down to 8.2 and then since Prohibition was re-appealed, by 1968 it was up to 19. TB in 1870, per hundred thousand, there were 460 people with TB. In 1900, it was 264 and Prohibition was a tremendous success because people—a lot of people obeyed the law and didn’t drink which meant that their nutrition was better, their vulnerability to disease sank, and by 1930, TB was down to 68 per hundred thousand.

Now I don’t want to issue a defense of Prohibition because it gave rise to the Kennedy family and that’s—[laughter]—a rising argument just by itself against Prohibition. But it does go back, it does go back to the point I tried to make before, that booze was a huge problem. Prohibition was a coercive instrument and it was obviously flouted. It led to widespread contempt for the law. It led to the corruption of police departments. It led to Universal Pictures. It led to all sorts of things. And Camelot. Well, it did. Jules Stein founded Universal and Jules Stein was a bandleader with Capone, who you know, flourished during the band-era Prohibition rackets. Hollywood did well out of this.

But the point is twofold. And, again, I think it has to be thought of. What is an element of coercion that’s necessary in drug treatment? This goes back to the issue of drug courts, drug therapy, and too, how much coercion is necessary? And, two, if you regard Prohibition as on the one hand, you can, it’s been—you think I’m being provocative, but epidemiologists have made, like Ayre, have made very sound defenses of Prohibition, saying it was a great social health experiment. I kid you not. Because on the stats, I gave you a few, you can go on with that. You have to, therefore, see these problems of addiction as public health problems, and I suggested that we’re coming into an era where we need to be very sophisticated and clearheaded about what we’re really talking about here.

Peter Dale Scott

I think it would be very good for us to study what happened at the end of Prohibition. I don’t totally disagree with what Alex just said, but I think two factors that [come into] play. One was that the amount of, the emergence of organized crime as a phenomenon with some rather spectacular shootouts towards the end of Prohibition. But perhaps even more important was the sudden deflation with the collapse of the stock market. And the stock market was really revived by the laundering of Prohibition money into the stock market, which now meant that the Prohibition players were players in, not on the dark side of the economy but at the center of the economy. And of course, when the decision was made to legalize alcohol, people like the Kennedy’s became major distributors in the new thing. So it was a way of saying, okay, well, we’ve tried fighting it, now let’s all work together to get the American economy going again.

Audience Member #12

But we could just say what this very day, the Seagram—another fortune made by Prohibition, the Seagram fortune, has just been bought by a Belgium working utility.

David Theroux

This gentleman, the next one?

Audience Member #13

I’d like to ask a question about all of the money you talked about. How much of this money’s got into our political parties, our court systems and also our international corporations? Have they benefited from this big drug war?

Peter Dale Scott

Well, we certainly know of individual drug traffickers who, people who convict—I want to be clear here, people convicted of cocaine trafficking, like Lionel Martinez, a very big contributor to Bush, Sr. and Jeb Bush in Florida. And I think that’s just the tip of the iceberg, frankly. Usually, it’s done through secondary and third parties, but not in the case of Lionel Martinez.

And then, I like the example of Fahad Azima, who’s airline, Global International, was involved in Iran/Contra, who was also involved with these heroin-trafficking Afghan guerillas. He not only gave to Clinton and to Gore, but just to be safe, he also gave to Fred Thompson, who was supposed to be investigating this whole thing from the Republican side. [laughter]

Jonathan Marshall

Well, but I would just add that one can always find individual cases of these contributions, and some may have led to political influence to protect an individual from time to time. I’m not sure these contributions have a systemic or structural effect. And the second point I would like to make is, the drug money flows are indeed probably huge, if you add it up around the world. But I think it’s a little misleading to conclude from that, that somehow the world economy is propped up, or the U.S. economy in particular, is propped up by the drug traffic. If demand for drugs ended, people would be demanding other products, other services, other forms of entertainment. The money would flow someplace else. So there are a lot of distorting effects of the drug traffic and particularly, drug prohibition but I don’t think it’s quite as systemic as some people say.

David Theroux

This gentleman right here. And then we’ll get back here.

Audience Member #14

Along this line of following the money, the effects of the drug trafficking on the political process. Do you feel that drug traffickers, the big cartels, actually, are opposed or in favor of the war on drugs?

Alexander Cochburn

Oh, I’m sure they’re in favor of it. Every time I read a very depressing testimony to Congress by a man called Andy Messing, who’s somebody you should watch the National Security Defense Foundation. He said it’s wrong to call this a war because we’re never going to win. Let’s call it a conflict, and let’s accept that all we’re going to do is reduce supply by 10 or 15 or 20 percent. That’s a good thing, he said.

Well, another way of putting it is that we’re going to stay in this conflict to keep the price up. So—and if there wasn’t a war and the price went down, then it wouldn’t be the profitable enterprise that it is now.

Jonathan Marshall

I thought many of the Colombian cartel leaders though actually were seeking a sort of non-violent end to the war. I think they thought they were in a good position probably to dominate illegal drug traffic.

Peter Dale Scott

Yeah, but I think they were also prepared to get out of the drug traffic. They have made their billions.

Jonathan Marshall

I don’t know. Making your billions rarely stops people from wanting to make more billions. I think—

Peter Dale Scott

Like the Bromfmans who go into entertainment.

Alexander Cockburn


David Theroux

We have time for one more question.

Audience Member #15

This, I’ll get a little heavy, but basically it looks—can I ask you if there’s any way we can deal with the drug traffic and the systemic money that flows through it, as well as the arms traffic and the mendacity and everything else? I think we’re totally addicted to it, not just the system and not just the guys at the top, or the secret government, but you and I and everybody else. I don’t see any way to turn this thing around without a huge amount of societal dislocation and I think you should look at that?

Peter Dale Scott

Well, I think we live in a society in which the whole drug trade has become part of the support of that society, but I think it’s a very sick one, and I think it’s vulnerable at the point that they have to rise to it. That’s why I, maybe I’m putting too much emphasis on this, but the lies in this House Committee Report are so crass and so frightened. I might say that I feel that they feel they’re on the point of being exposed.

I can tell you this. That if one American in a hundred would read the Hitz Reports and read the Frommige Department of Justice Report, there would be a political movement to demand a restructuring of the relationship between our intelligence agencies and criminal forces in the Third World. And I think we need that. I think we can only have democracy when people know how things are being done. We cannot have a democracy when everything is covert and we are fighting a war in Colombia with MPRI and Dine Corp., which are private corporations people have never heard of. But if we get all this out and expose it, that is the only way I see how we can turn it around and we have to.

Alexander Cockburn

You say addiction, I mean, as a couple of examples of the way a drug problem flows into another problem. I’ve lived a lot of the time in Humboldt County. [laughter] Now, where hippies grow dope, ranchers grow dope. Why do ranchers grow dope? There’s long-term agricultural economic depression. Ranchers don’t get too much money for their calves. Why don’t they get money for the calves? Because the bulk of the money in the beef trade is made by the processors. The [profits] lie with beef processors. The price for a rancher of a calf has barely gone up in 20 years. All the price of beef in the supermarket has barely gone down. Where’s the money going? It’s going to the middle guy. What is one of the consequences? Most ranchers in Humboldt or Mendicino [Counties] or around there will grow some dope to supplement their income.

It’s an economic necessity in the same way that if you denude South Central L.A. of any manufacturing facility and the only employment of opportunity there, or in North Richmond here in the Bay Area, is dealing in drugs. If there’s no other job, then you’ve got a drug problem. So these problems then flow into larger social problems. And one of the baneful effects of the drug war is it’s cast in this rigid perspective without seeing all the endless ramifications of larger social dislocation, which is very often as simple as how can you get by in the small rural community.

Cocaine; you can go to any small town in America and see in an economic depression which restaurants are surviving because they’re washing through drug money. That’s how it works. You have to look at these larger pictures all the time, and then a drug problem becomes an economic justice problem.

Jonathan Marshall

I would also, oh, at least, I would disagree with the assumption of the question that the drug trade or our addiction to drugs is so deeply rooted that it would be wrenching to—


The money—drugs and guns and things of this sort (inaudible)

Jonathan Marshall

Yeah. Well, I don’t think that the money from the illicit gun trade is all that enormous. I think that, the reality is, I think Milton Friedman made this observation, no doubt others have too, but the power of special interest groups is often inversely proportional to their size. The reason is that small ones have very concentrated interests and focus their lobbying power, their political power or even covert power very effectively. Large groups tend to be more diffused and it’s harder really to satisfy their needs.

I think the interest groups who benefit most from the war on drugs are fairly small. I think if we ended, say, our program of trying to control the destiny of Third World countries and intervening through their military and police forces in guerilla wars, we would be better off, not worse. There would be less wrenching dislocation if we stayed out of Colombia than if we go in and create another Vietnam. There would be less wrenching dislocation if we moved towards treating drug problems as medical and social problems rather than law enforcement and military problems. So I think we have everything to gain and very little to lose.

David Theroux

One thing I might just add to what Jonathan just said was that many of the economists that we work with are from the so-called public choice school of economics, who point out that politics is a contest. It’s a competition among interest groups to gain control of the police power to be used in coercive measure to benefit themselves. Essentially to enrich themselves, as opposed to obtaining wealth through voluntary means. And the nature of politics is that those that benefit directly are going to be a small number who can benefit from very modest changes, and they can diffuse the cost to the public through taxes and liability and any other cost, or ways of essentially distributing these costs that result. But I do think, on the positive side, it’s important to recognize that it’s only been a very relatively small number of years when this movement, for example, medical marijuana has come into being and now has 70+ percent popular support.

To me, the problem as far as how we get between the situation now and [where] we’d like to be, is largely one of information. Not only of information, but the public still by and large believes the official pronouncements of the DEA and other entities are indeed serving the public. My view is that even if the DEA is run by angels, it would be anti-social because of the nature of the way government institutions operate, partly as the public choice economists point out.

In any event, I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our panelists [loud applause] and those of you who have not gotten their books, Cocaine Politics and Whiteout, there are copies upstairs. They’d be delighted to autograph them for you. If you’re not our mailing list, please give us your address and so forth. If you have further questions, I’m sure the authors would be happy to address those as well. And thank you. We hope to see you again next time. Good night.



DEA Chief Robert Bonner said CIA Smuggled Drugs

L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."—Senator John Kerry (1996)

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. -1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, CIA Headquarters
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The following excerpt is Chapter IV of Drugs, Contras and the CIA: Government Policies and the Cocaine Economy: An Analysis of Media and Government Response to the Gary Webb Stories in The San Jose Mercury News (1996-2000), by Peter Dale Scott

Chapter Four. The Response By Congress

In February 2000 the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issued its own Report on the charges first brought forward by Gary Webb’s stories in the San Jose Mercury News. The Committee conducted its own interviews to supplement its review of the two CIA IG Reports (Hitz I and II) and the DOJ IG Report. The Committee claimed to have used Webb’s own articles and his book, Dark Alliance as “key resources” in focusing and refining their investigation (HR 2).

This Report represents a further episode in the on-going national debate stirred up by Gary Webb’s stories, rather than a useful resolution of that debate. Webb polarized this country into two outraged factions, an elite faction offended by Webb’s references to the CIA, and a public infuriated by Webb’s revelations of government favors to major drug dealers.

The House Committee [HPSCI], to no one’s surprise, has once again revealed its allegiance to the first faction. It barely addresses what Webb actually wrote, and misrepresents even the few sentences from which it quotes. Instead it focuses, over and over, on what it calls the “implications of the San Jose Mercury News” (HR 5), or “the government conspiracy theories implicit in the 'Dark Alliance' series” (HR 5). Although the Report contains a few valid criticisms, its major arguments are flawed by misrepresentations and systematic falsehoods.


Here is the Committee’s version of what Webb wrote:Among other things, the series stated that CIA assets were responsible, during the 1980’s, for supplying cocaine to South Central Los Angeles.  The cocaine operation, according to the articles, was part [sic] of the Nicaraguan Democratic Force (FDN), and it was masterminded by CIA assets who were using the sale of this cocaine to finance the Contra movement. The articles stated that these individuals met with “CIA agents both before and during the time they were selling the drugs in L.A.” (HR 6)

A Committee footnote to the last sentence adds, erroneously, that “From the context in which the term ‘agent’ is used, it is apparently meant to refer to CIA staff employees.”

The Report then shifts from Webb’s alleged statements to what he “suggested:" Although the articles did not specifically state that the CIA was directly involved in cocaine trafficking, the series suggested that the CIA condoned the trafficking.

For this “implication” the Report musters one credible piece of evidence:

For months the San Jose Mercury’s internet web page introduced the articles with a title page that presented an individual lighting a crack cocaine pipe superimposed over the official seal of the CIA, clearly demonstrating an intent to link the CIA with cocaine trafficking. (HR 6)

This bit of web sensationalism was indeed responsible for much of the furor in response to Webb’s articles. The San Jose Mercury News was right to withdraw it. But, as the Committee should have known, the web logo was not part of the series; and Gary Webb in particular had nothing to do with it.

The Report’s one effort to quote the Report itself is blatantly illogical. “The articles left readers with the impression that the CIA was responsible for the spread of cocaine in South Central Los Angeles,” it argues (HR 43), and then supports this claim with a citation from Gary Webb whose statement about the CIA is quite different:

For the better part of a decade, a San Francisco Bay Area drug ring sold tons of cocaine to the Crips and Bloods street gangs of Los Angeles and funneled millions in drug profits to a Latin American guerrilla army run by the  U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, a Mercury News investigation has found.                                   

One can question whether the cocaine amounted to “tons;” one can question whether the profits amounted to “millions;” one can even question (and the Report does, vigorously) whether the Contras amounted to an “army.” But the connections presented in this sentence have been validated by the DOJ investigation, which found that the two main dealers, Norwin Meneses and Danilo Blandon, were, as the Report concedes, “significant dealers who supported the Contras” (HR 11).  The DOJ also corroborated Webb’s claim that the government knew of the two men’s drug trafficking, but never moved against them until after the Contra program ended.

Nothing in Webb’s sentence, or any other part of Webb’s stories, stated or implied that either Meneses or Blandon were themselves “CIA agents” or “CIA assets.” The only people named as “CIA agents” (Webb never used the term “assets”) were the Contras’ military chief Enrique Bermudez, and the Contra political leaders Adolfo Calero (who Webb called a “CIA operative”) and Marcos Aguado.

Elsewhere I have faulted Webb for using the term “CIA agent” too loosely.  Enrique Bermudez is not known to have been a “CIA agent” (as opposed to “CIA asset,” “client,” or “invention”). But Aguado has been said in sworn testimony to have presented himself as a CIA agent (Scott and Marshall 113). Calero, by most informed accounts, was a long-time CIA agent.

Webb was unambiguously referring to Bermudez and Calero when he claimed that Meneses and Blandon “met with CIA agents both before and during the time they were selling the drugs in L.A.” And unquestionably they did. Blandon confirmed to the Committee what Webb had claimed: that in 1981 he and Meneses met Bermudez in Honduras, and that Bermudez had urged the two men (at this time only Meneses was a prominent drug dealer) to support the Contras, adding that “the end justifies the means.” Blandon disputed only Webb’s interpretation that Bermudez was sanctioning a drug traffic: “It didn’t mean that he told us, go on, sell drugs” (HR 26). (Meneses denied that Bermudez used the phrase at all, but confirmed that Bermudez gave him “instructions about generating support for the Contra cause;” HR 22.)

It is equally certain that both Meneses and Blandon met with Adolfo Calero. Webb documented this with a photograph of Meneses and Calero together, The Report claims that Webb presented the photo “as evidence that there was an association between the CIA and drug trafficking,” and it calls “this type of ‘proof’...fallacious” (HR 3). What nonsense! Webb presented the photo as evidence that Calero and Meneses met.

Webb reported the eyewitness account of a former Contra supporter, “David Morrison,” that Calero and Meneses met frequently; and also that (as “Morrison” told the FBI in 1987) Calero’s FDN faction of the Contras had “become more involved in selling arms and cocaine for personal gain than in a military effort.”

“Morrison” tipped Webb to his central allegation, that (in the Committee’s words) “attempts by law enforcement entities to investigate and prosecute...Meneses...were ‘stymied’ by ‘agencies of the U.S. government’” as long as the Contras were in existence (HR 6).

Amazingly, the Committee does not address this claim in their Findings, presumably because they knew it was correct. The DOJ confirmed that Meneses was investigated but never arrested on drug charges from 1980 to 1989; and even (as Webb had noted) that “Meneses was able to enter the United States repeatedly, despite the various investigations of him for drug trafficking” (DOJ 187). The Committee virtually suppresses this corroboration in its summary of the DOJ Inspector-General’s Report, saying merely that “there was uncertainty within the DOJ concerning whether to prosecute Meneses or use him as a witness in other cases” (HR 11).  This is a very tepid way of acknowledging that a well-known and “significant” drug dealer moved freely without fear of arrest.


The Committee’s determination to exonerate the government and invalidate Webb leads them to make a number of statements that can only be called falsehoods. These falsehoods are not random. On the contrary, they add up to a coherent but false picture that has been the CIA’s fallback account of Contra drug trafficking since 1985. In sum, the Committee tries to corroborate the claim of CIA Task Force Chief Alan Fiers, testifying in 1986, that “there was a lot of cocaine trafficking around Eden

Pastora...None around FDN, none around UNO”—the successive names for the Bermudez-Calero faction of the Contras (HR 213; cf. Hitz II, para 242).(The Independent Counsel for Iran-Contra concluded that Fiers had committed perjury in other statements which he made to Congress. Fiers pleaded guilty to two lesser counts; Walsh 263.)

Falsehood #1: The FDN Leadership Avoided Drug-Trafficking:

In the Committee’s words, there is unambiguous reporting in the CIA materials reviewed showing that the FDN leadership in Nicaragua would not accept drug monies and would remove from its ranks those who had involvement in drug trafficking. (HR 44n)

A more honest summary of the Hitz reports would acknowledge that they contained a detailed account of drug-trafficking by members of the main FDN faction, ADREN, alias the 15th of September Legion. Those named included the FDN Chief of Logistics (Hitz II, paras 181, 187, 194, 542). Hitz I reports that a key figure in the so-called “Frogman” drug case claimed to have personally delivered drug profits to FDN leader Aristides Sanchez, saying that the money was from Aristides’ brother Troilo—a known drug-trafficker and source for the “Frogman” cocaine (Hitz I, para 270).

The Committee received, and even reprinted, the Hitz II Summary finding that “CIA also received allegations or information concerning drug trafficking by nine Contra-related individuals in the [FDN] Northern Front, based in Honduras” (Hitz II Summary para 17; HR 169). This included credible information, corroborated elsewhere, against Adolfo Calero’s brother Mario Calero, the chief purchasing agent, and Juan Ramon Rivas, the Northern Army Chief of Staff (Hitz II, paras 550-52, 560-72).

A CIA HQ cable in November 1986 described Mario Calero as “a symbol to our critics of all that is perceived to be rotten in the FDN” (Hitz II, para 557). At this time there was a statutory requirement to cut off “funding to any Contra group that retained a member who ‘has been found’ to engage in drug smuggling” (Hitz II Summary, para 33; HR 175).

Falsehood #2: The Kerry Senate Subcommittee found that the U.S. Government cut off aid to Pastora’s faction, because of its involvement in drug-trafficking.

Let us quote the Committee exactly on this false claim, which is central to their overall argument:

The [Kerry] Subcommittee...noted that all U.S. assistance to the [Pastora] Southern Front Contra organization (ARDE) was cut off on May 30, 1984 because of the involvement of ARDE personnel in drug trafficking.

As we shall see, this is a double falsehood. The May 1984 cutoff of aid to Pastora was not because of drug trafficking, and the Kerry Committee never “noted” that it was.

If we turn to the page in the Kerry Report cited by the House Committee, we find the following:

After the La Penca bombing of May 30, 1984, all assistance was cut off by the CIA to ARDE, while other Contra groups on both fronts continued to receive support from the U.S. government through a variety of channels.  The United States stated that its cut-off of ARDE was related to the involvement of its personnel in drug trafficking. Yet many of the same drug traffickers who had assisted ARDE were also assisting other Contra groups that continued to receive funding. Morales, for example, used Geraldo [sic] Duran as one of his drug pilots, and Duran worked for Alfonso Robelo and Fernando “el Negro” Chamorro, who were associated with other Contra groups” [i.e. the Calero-Bermudez faction] (Kerry Report, 52).

In other words, the Kerry Report discredited the government claim that aid to Pastora was cut off in May 1984 because of drug trafficking. In fact, the Report went on the repeat the claim of a Pastora aide, Karol Prado, that the CIA was manipulating drug trafficking allegations to discredit Pastora and his supporters. The Report then supported this claim with an entry from Oliver North’s diary (7/24/84), “get Alfredo Cesar on Drugs” (Kerry Report, 53).

Prado’s claim has been endorsed by a number of books (e.g. Honey 365, Scott para 82). It was repeated to the House Committee by Pastora himself (HR 21-22).However

the Committee found no evidence to support Pastora’s claims....On the contrary, interviews with CIA officials and a review of the CIA’s operational correspondence from that period reveal that the CIA began to distance itself from Pastora and his organization because it had received information that Pastora and members of his group were involved with drug trafficking.” (HR 22)

What the CIA officials told the Committee is demonstrably untrue. Aid to Pastora was cut off “in May 1984” (HR 21), after Pastora had rejected a CIA ultimatum to merge his organization with the FDN led by Bermudez and Calero. The relevant allegations of drug trafficking around Pastora date from after, not before, this cutoff. Joe Fernandez, the former CIA Station Chief in Costa Rica, told the HPSCI that

CIA immediately sought to sever its relationship with Pastora when it was determined that Morales was involved in narcotics trafficking and that Pastora had access to some of Morales’ illicit funds. (HR 19)

But this determination was made in October 1984, four months after the aid cutoff. In the words of Hitz II,

The cutoff of U.S. funding led associates of Pastora to begin looking for alternative sources of funds. In October 1984, CIA began receiving the reporting mentioned earlier that Southern Front leaders allied with Pastora had agreed to help Miami-based trafficker Jorge Morales bring drugs into the United States in exchange for his material and financial help to the Southern Front. (Hitz II, para 221; cf. para 225)

The CIA made a final termination of its relationship with Pastora two weeks later, completing the break that began with the aid cutoff in May (Hitz II, para 232).

The Hitz II chronology, though enough to disprove the claim that drug allegations led to the aid cutoff, does not tell the full story. According to the Kerry Report, Morales’ financial help also went to former associates of Pastora (like Fernando Chamorro and Alfonso Robelo) who under CIA pressure had defected from Pastora and joined with the FDN in a new, allegedly united UNO.

Thus the CIA use of the Morales story is duplicitous. They used the Morales connection to discredit Pastora, both at the time and later to the House Committee. Yet the CIA, even though it was getting reports on the Morales operation from Morales’ two top Contra contacts, never reported to anyone about the connections of Morales and his pilot Duran to those (like Fernando Chamorro and Alfonso Robelo) in its preferred UNO faction.

Hitz II corroborates that Adolfo “Popo” Chamorro and Octaviano Cesar, the two Contra leaders receiving funds from Morales until 1986, had by then broken with Pastora and joined a rival faction, the CIA-preferred BOS (Hitz II, paras 245, 331). Hitz II also reveals that a source for the October 1984 drug accusations against Pastora, Harold Martinez, left Pastora for the BOS, where he was later identified as a drug trafficker (Hitz II, paras 424-25). Even the tepid Hitz II summary confirms that whereas the CIA broke off contact with Pastora in October 1984, it “continued to have contact through 1986-87 with four of the individuals involved with Morales”—i.e. with Chamorro and Cesar (Hitz II Summary, para 14; HR 168-69).

The relative candor of Hitz II is wholly suppressed in the House Committee Report, which reverts to the 1980s cover story:

Several senior CIA managers [interviewed by the Committee] could recollect only a single instance of narco-trafficking by Contra officials....based on these reports, CIA program managers severed U.S. support to this Contra faction [i.e.  Pastora’s] (HR 42).

It is possible that the Committee did hear this falsehood, but that is no excuse for transmitting it.

The Committee did interview Adolfo “Popo” Chamorro, who readily admitted his involvement with the confessed drug trafficker George Morales (HR 24). Chamorro told the Committee “that his cousin, Octaviano Cesar [widely reported from other sources to have been a CIA agent; Scott and Marshall 113] asked permission from the CIA to proceed with an operation involving Morales” [i.e. the drug operation]” (HR 24).

It is highly revealing of the Committee’s aims and method that, after hearing that Cesar had requested CIA permission before proceeding in an operation with a drug dealer, it did not interview Cesar. (Cesar had earlier reported to the Kerry Committee that he reported to CIA about his deal with Morales, and Hitz II [para 332] confirms that Cesar gave a full account of it to CIA Security.)

This is a matter of the greatest seriousness. A US government witness, Fabio Carrasco (one of Morales’ pilots) gave sworn testimony that on instructions from Jorge Morales he personally delivered “several million dollars” in 1984-85 to Southern front Contra leaders Octaviano Cesar and Adolfo “Popo” Chamorro (NSA Packet [47]). This represented payment for “between five and seven” drug

shipments under the Morales-Chamorro deal, amounting in all to between 1,500 and 2,800 kilos of cocaine; p. [51].

Carrasco and another pilot testified that they understood the flights had CIA protection, and it is clear that they were able to fly into customs-controlled airports without interference. In addition Morales, just like Meneses, was able to enter and leave the United States without difficulty, even though he was under indictment for drug offenses at the time (Scott paras 78-92).

FALSEHOOD #3: CIA officers never concealed narcotics trafficking.

This falsehood is so outrageous that, once again, it should be quoted:

CIA reporting to DOJ of information on Contra involvement in narcotics trafficking was inconsistent but in compliance with then-current policies and regulations. There is no evidence, however, that CIA officers in the field or at headquarters ever concealed narcotics trafficking information or allegations involving the Contras. (HR 42)

In fact CIA officers did take steps to prevent what the CIA knew about Contra drug-trafficking from reaching the DOJ.  In 1987 the Miami U.S. Attorney’s office was investigating drug allegations concerning two Cuban Contra supporters, Felipe Vidal and Moises Nunez, as well as their seafood company Ocean Hunter.  When a CIA officer proposed to debrief Vidal about these matters, he was overruled, on the grounds that “narcotics trafficking relative to Contra-related activities is exactly the sort of thing that the U.S. Attorney’s Office will be investigating” (Hitz II, para 522). A similar proposal to debrief Nunez was likewise overruled (Hitz II, para 491).

The cover-up involved acts of commission as well as omission.  In July 1987 CIA lawyers transmitted a request from the Miami U.S. Attorney’s office for “any documents” concerning Contra-related activities of Ocean Hunter.  The Department of Operations advised the CIA lawyers that “no information had been found regarding Ocean Hunter,” although such information existed (Hitz II, para 528). Concerning the drug-suspected airline SETCO, owned by Class One narcotics trafficker Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros, and used by CIA to supply FDN camps in Honduras, CIA officials reported falsely, in response to an inquiry from Justice, that in CIA files “There are no records of a SETCO Air.” CIA officers appear also to have lied to Hitz investigators about this matter (Hitz II, paras 820-23).

This protection of drug traffickers expressed itself in other ways as well. A CIA cable discouraged CIA counternarcotics efforts against a major trafficker, Alan Hyde, on the grounds that Hyde’s connection to CIA “is well documented and could prove difficult in the prosecution stage” (Hitz II, para 953). CIA headquarters gave orders that DEA Agents not pursue a drug investigation of a Contra pilot that would have risked exposure of CIA Contra support operations at Ilopango Airport(Hitz II, para 451).

The Committee appears to have been aware that CIA officers did withhold information from Justice. What else can explain the comically restricted language of its official Finding Number Six:

CIA officers, on occasion, notified law enforcement entities when they became aware of allegations concerning the identities or activities of drug traffickers” (HR 44).

This seems to concede that “on occasion” they did not. Such a finding is about as helpful as if the FBI, after investigating a suspect, found that “on occasion” he was nice to people.

One cannot agree with the Committee that such withholding of information was “in compliance with then current policies and regulations.” It is true that the Reagan Justice Department had exempted CIA officers from the legal requirement to volunteer to the DOJ what they knew about drug crimes.  It did not however give them permission to withhold information about drug crimes, or to lie about them.

The Committee claims that narcotics trafficking was not a high priority in the 1980s:

Narcotics trafficking today is arguably our most important national security concern....This was not the case during the Contra insurgency, and the CIA’s counternarcotics reporting record from that time is mixed at best” (HR 38-39).

It is abundantly obvious that in the 1980s narcotics trafficking was not an important national security concern of the CIA. But in downplaying its importance, the CIA substituted its own priorities for those of the nation. President Reagan himself, in 1986, signed a directive declaring drugs to be a national security threat (Scott and Marshall 2). In a White House address, he also called on the American people to join him in a national crusade against drugs (Los Angeles Times, 8/5/86).


The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Report is an important document, one deserving the attention and close scrutiny of the American public. It is important for what it tells us, not about the CIA, but about the Committee itself. The Committee was originally created to exert Congressional checks and restraints on the intelligence community, in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution. For some time it has operated instead as a rubber stamp, deflecting public concern rather than representing it. It is however possible that never before  has such a dishonest and deceptive document, on such an important subject, been approved without dissent by the full membership of the Committee.

What is particularly disappointing is that the CIA and DOJ Inspector Generals’ Reports, although limited and in some ways flawed, represented a new level of candor in admitting that journalistic accounts of Contra drug-trafficking were grounded in real problems.  Rarely has the public waited so attentively for a response from the HPSCI, just as perhaps never before had there been so much interest in an HPSCI public hearing.

I am told that, at the public town hall meetings in Los Angeles where Julian Dixon and other members of the panel were present, the American people were promised open hearings. In fact the one open hearing (on Hitz I) was held so suddenly that even a concerned Congresswoman learned of it only after the hearing began. The May 25, 1999 hearing on Hitz II and the DOJ Report was closed. Congress should now be pressured to take steps to ensure that the promise of an open hearing is fulfilled, preferably in another Committee.

For the HPSCI’s record on drug trafficking by CIA assets has been constantly abysmal. We know now that in the 1980s the Chairman of the HPSCI, Lee Hamilton, was regularly receiving reports from the CIA about Contra-related drug trafficking (Hitz II, e.g. paras 237, 287, 308,1099). Yet, as Chair of the House Iran-Contra Committee, Hamilton commissioned a staff memo which alleged, falsely and dishonestly, that “reams of testimony from hundreds of witnesses...developed no evidence which would show that Contra leadership was involved in drug smuggling. (Iran-Contra Report, 631, Scott paras 178-87). Bill McCollum, who as member of the HPSCI had also received such reports, endorsed the lying memo. He is still an active member of the HPSCI.

This latest deception cannot be written off as an academic or historical matter. The CIA’s practice of recruiting drug-financed armies is an on-going matter. It appears to have begun when Sicilian mafiosi, some of them freshly deported from U.S. prisons, were used to attack and kill the Communists who threatened to win an election in Sicily.  Using Laotian hill people whose sole cash crop was opium, the CIA recruited an entire army numbering tens of thousands.

At the same time as the Contras, the CIA was arming and advising heroin-trafficking guerrillas in Afghanistan. Its preferred leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, became for a period one of the leading heroin suppliers in the world. In the last few years, the CIA has helped promote the Kosovo Liberation Army, many of whose leaders and arms are known to have been financed by Kosovar drug-trafficking.

No one can pretend that these practices have not contributed to our national drug crisis. In 1979, when the U.S. first established contact with heroin-trafficking guerrillas in Afghanistan, no heroin from the so-called Golden Crescent on the Afghan-Pakistan border was known to reach the United States. By 1984, according to the Reagan Administration, 54 percent of the heroin reaching this country came from the Afghan-Pakistan border.

The CIA’s drug scandals are not confined to its allegedly unmanageable guerrilla armies.  In March 1997 Michel-Joseph Francois, the CIA-backed police chief in Haiti, was indicted in Miami for having helped to smuggle 33 tons of Colombian cocaine and heroin into the United States. The Haitian National Intelligence Service (SIN), which the CIA helped to create, was also a target of the Justice Department investigation which led to the indictment. (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/8/97). A few months earlier, General Ramon Guillen Davila, chief of a CIA-created anti-drug unit in Venezuela, was indicted in Miami for smuggling a ton of cocaine into the United States. According to the New York Times, “The CIA, over the objections of the Drug Enforcement Administration, approved the shipment of at least one ton of pure cocaine to Miami International Airport as a way of gathering information about the Colombian drug cartels.” (New York Times, 11/3/96). The total amount of drugs smuggled by Gen. Guillen may have been more than 22 tons.

So the HPSCI Report should be taken as an occasion for both Congressional and national action. Reforms of the Intelligence Committees are urgently needed, to create greater space between the Committee and the bodies they are supposed to oversee. (Porter Goss, the current HPSCI chairman, is a former CIA officer, while George Tenet, the current CIA Director, is a former member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence staff.)

Porter Goss’s true agenda is revealed by his selection in 1997 of another former CIA officer, John Millis, to be Chief of the HPSCI Staff. In 1997 it was obvious that the HPSCI would be called on to make an objective evaluation of the Gary Webb allegations. However Millis had served for thirteen years as a case officer supplying covert CIA aid to the heroin-trafficking guerrillas in Afghanistan—an analogous and contemporary alliance between the CIA and known drug-traffickers (New York Times, 6/6/00). At least one of the airlines involved in the Afghan support operation, Global International Airways, was also named in connection with the Iran-Contra scandal (Los Angeles Times, 2/20/97).

The most immediate national priority should be to demand an accounting for what happened from the present members of the HPSCI. Their constituents should inform them and their personal staffs of the reasons why this Report is unacceptable and should be rejected.

[The full 50 page report, with index and bibliography is available for $14.95 + 3.00 s&h at http://www.suppressedwriters.com]


DEA Chief Robert Bonner said CIA Smuggled Drugs

L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."—Senator John Kerry (1996)

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. -1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, CIA Headquarters
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Deep Politics III by Peter Dale Scott


December 2000

[Note to reader: Although this chapter precedes the rest, it should be regarded as more of a Concluding Overview than an Introduction. Those approaching this material for the first time should probably begin directly with Chapter One. Those already familiar with the issues raised should probably begin with this chapter, and use it as a guide to refer to the rest of the book.]

Kryptocracies, Kryptonomy, and Oswald: the Mexican CIA-Mob Nexus

Those who have spent years trying to assess the role of the Kennedy assassination in US history are accustomed to the debate between structuralists and conspiratorialists. In the first camp are those who argue, in the spirit of Marx and Weber, that the history of a major power is determined by large social forces; thus the accident of an assassination, even if conspiratorial, is of little historical import. (On this point Noam Chomsky and Alex Cockburn agree with the mainstream US media they normally criticize.)

At the other end of the spectrum are those who talk of an Invisible Government or Secret Team, who believe that surface events and institutions are continuously manipulated by unseen forces. For these people the assassination exemplifies the operation of fundamental historical forces, not a disruption of them.

For years I have attempted to formulate a third or middle position. To do so I have relied on distinctions formulated partly in neologisms or invented terms. (I apologize for this: neologisms, like conspiracies, are not to be multiplied beyond necessity.) Thirty years ago I postulated that our overt political processes were at times seriously contaminated by manipulative covert politics or parapolitics, which I then defined as "a system or practice of politics in which accountability is consciously diminished."[1] In Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, I moved towards a less conspiratorial middle alternative. I discussed instead the interactions of what I called deep political processes, emanating from plural power sources and all only occasionally visible, all usually repressed rather than recognized. In contrast to parapolitical processes, those of deep politics are open-ended, not securely within anyone's power or intentions.

In 1995 I brought out Deep Politics II, which I thought of at the time as a case study in deep politics: how secret U.S. government reports on Oswald in Mexico became a reason to cover up the facts about the assassination of JFK. But it was also a specialized study, since in this case most of the repressed records of events, now declassified, occurred within the workings of the CIA, FBI, military intelligence, or their zones of influence. It was hence largely a study in parapolitics. It verged into deep politics only near the end, when it described how a collaborating Mexican agency, the DFS (Direcciòn Federal de Seguridad) was deeply involved in the international drug traffic. Deep Politics, in contrast, looked continuously at the interaction between government and other social forces, such as the drug traffic.

Both books represented an alternative kind of history, or what we may perhaps call parahistory. Parahistory differs from history in two respects. First, it is an account of suppressed events, at odds with the publicly accepted history of this country. (One might say that history is the record of politics; parahistory, the record of parapolitics.) Second, parahistory is restored from records which were themselves once repressed. In short, parahistory is a reconstructed account of events denied by the public records from which history is normally composed.[2] Thus the parahistory of Oswald in Mexico tells of events, not just ignored by official histories, but at odds with the official record: i.e. officially suppressed and denied.

A key example concerns a tape of someone calling himself "Lee Oswald," talking on a Soviet Embassy phone about having met a consul there by the name of Kostikov, a KGB agent. As we shall see, this tape should have been preserved and investigated as a prime piece of evidence to frame Oswald as an assassin. We have documentary evidence that one day after the President's murder this tape was listened to by FBI agents in Dallas, who determined that the speaker was in fact not Lee Harvey Oswald. Yet almost immediately this event was denied by other reports, including cables claiming -- falsely -- that the tape had already been destroyed before the assassination.

A brief but important digression here about history. Most people assume that "history" simply refers to what has happened but is now gone. In fact the dictionary reminds us that the word (cognate to the word "story") refers primarily to a narrative or record of events, and only after that to "the events forming the subject matter of history."[3] What of events whose records are destroyed or falsified? These dictionary definitions seem to assume that what is true is also what is recorded.

There is thus a latent bias in the evolution of the word "history" that is related to the structuralist, rationalist assumptions referred to in my first paragraph. It is no accident that, with respect to Oswald in Mexico, historians as a class have opposed the parahistory we shall unfold here. History has always been the way a culture chooses to record and remember itself; and it tends to treat official records with a respect they do not always deserve. We shall return to the role of history in our concluding section.

Deep Politics II only verged from parahistory into deep political history when (as we shall see) it situated actions and reports from the CIA in Mexico City in the social context of actions of a sister agency (the Mexican Federal Security Directorate, or DFS ) which was deeply enmeshed in the unrecorded operations of the Mexican-U.S. drug traffic. Note the methodological distinction here. Parahistory can be partly recovered by the disclosure of previously repressed records. Deep political history must attempt to reconstruct what happened in areas where there are few if any records at all.

It is reasonable to talk about the CIA records in this book as repressed, as so many of them were never allowed to reach even the Warren Commission. Thus neither the Commission nor the American public were allowed to hear allegations that Oswald had had sexual relations with one or two employees of the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City, that at least one of these liaisons (with Silvia Durán) had been part of an international Communist plot against Kennedy, and that Durán had admitted this (albeit under torture) in response to questions from the Mexican DFS or secret police.

More importantly, the CIA and FBI conspired to suppress a major clue to the existence of a pre-assassination conspiracy. This was that an unknown person had falsely presented himself as Lee Oswald in a phone call to the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City. The FBI initially reported that the person making the recorded call "was not Lee Harvey Oswald" (AR 249-50). Later the FBI and CIA conspired, swiftly and clumsily, to conceal both the falsity of the impersonation and the fact that FBI agents had exposed the falsehood by listening to the tape. The Warren Commission learned nothing about these two facts.

It is important to understand that this suppression was entirely consistent with intelligence priorities of the period. This important clue had been planted in the midst of one of the most sensitive CIA operations in the 1960s: its largest intercept operation against the telephones of an important Soviet base. One can assume that this clue was planted by conspirators who knew that the CIA response would be to suppress the truth. As a result the CIA protected its sources and methods (in accordance with the responsibilities enumerated in its enabling statute). The result was obstruction of justice in a crime of the highest political significance.

In an open society, all of the Oswald facts and allegations would have reached the Warren Commission, whether or not they were true. The absence of objective evaluation and review allowed these facts and allegations about Oswald in Mexico to become enabling instruments of power: first to create the Warren Commission, and later to curtail its investigations.

The power of these covert agencies to control US politics through the manipulation of truth is only one more reason for us to refer to them as kryptocracies, agencies of government which (in contrast to conventional bureaucracies) operate secretly and are not accountable for their actions and procedures. At this stage, I shall refer to kryptocracies in the plural, to make it clear that I am not talking about some single omnipotent Secret Team. On the contrary, we shall see in Part Three of this book that different kryptocracies or intelligence agencies, and even different branches within these agencies, were in conflict with each other over the matters raised by Lee Harvey O/swald.

The point is rather that, in major powers like the United States, bureaucratic behavior, which in principle is publicly recorded and accountable, is in some respects determined by the kryptocratic behavior at its center, which is not As we shall see in the following pages, one of the important sources of the kryptocracies' power is their ability to falsify their own records, without fear of outside correction.

But even if we concede the autonomy of kryptocracies, how important are they in determining the course of history? I believe the evidence in this book will justify a limited answer to this question: the kryptocracies, and the CIA in particular, were powerful enough to control and defuse a possible crisis in U.S. political legitimacy. They did so by reinforcing an unsustainable claim: Oswald killed the President, and he acted alone.

Kryptocracies and the Kryptonomy (International Drug Traffic)

But the power of kryptocracies to influence history became even greater when, as we shall see, they acted in concert with forces allied to the powerful international drug traffic. Most people are unaware of the size of this unrecorded drug economy. In 1981 U.S. Government analysts estimated that the annual sales volume of illicit drugs exceeded half a trillion dollars.[4] The total of legitimate, recorded international trade, in all commodities, was in the order of one trillion dollars, or twice the estimate for drugs. While estimates of the unrecorded drug traffic remain questionable, it is obvious that this traffic is large enough to be a major factor in both the economic and political considerations of government, even while it does not form part of recorded economic statistics.

For this reason, I propose the word kryptonomy, to name this unrecorded, illicit, but nonetheless important shadow economy. It is no accident that kryptocracies and the kryptonomy work in concert. The kryptonomy is so large, and so powerful, that governments have no choice but to plan to manage it, even before attempting to suppress it.[5]

There is a third factor contributing to the invisible alliance of kryptocracies and the kryptonomy: the power of the independently wealthy, and of the banks that cater to them. Informed observers of American politics have more than once commented to me that most of the hundred wealthiest people in the US know each other, and in addition often have connections to both the CIA and to organized crime. There is no shortage of anecdotal examples: James Angleton of CIA Counterintelligence delivering the sole eulogy at the small private funeral of Howard Hughes, or Joseph Kennedy Sr. being a point-holder in the same casino (the Cal-Neva) as Sam Giancana.[6] More relevant to the milieu of the JFK assassination is the example of Clint Murchison, Sr. Murchison paid for the horse-racing holidays of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover at the same time as he sold stakes in his investments to mob figures like Jerry Catena, and enjoyed political influence in Mexico.[7]

These connections are no accident. More often than not the extremely wealthy became that way by ignoring or bending the rules of society, not by observing them. In corrupting politicians, or in bypassing them to secure unauthorized foreign intercessions, both the mob and the CIA can be useful allies. In addition drug profits need to be laundered, and banks can derive a significant percentage of their profits by laundering them, or otherwise bending or breaking the rules of their host countries.[8] Citibank came under Congressional investigation after having secretly moved $80 million to $100 million for Raul Salinas de Gortari, brother of former Mexican president Carlos Salinas.[9]

When operating within their guidelines, kryptocracies are less powerful than generally believed. Likewise the power of the biggest drug traffickers is not autonomous, but depends on their government connections. But when kryptocracies and kryptonomy work in concert, as they must to sustain the status quo, they share in a source of deep political influence that affects us all. A good example of this is the collaboration in Mexico, between the CIA and the corrupt DFS, to influence history by presenting false stories about Oswald. But it would be wrong to think of the CIA-DFS collaboration as a simple alliance.

One of the most crime-ridden CIA assets we know of is the Mexican DFS, which the US helped to create. From its foundation in the 1940s, the DFS, like other similar kryptocracies in Latin America, was deeply involved with international drug-traffickers. By the 1980s possession of a DFS card was recognized by DEA agents as a "license to traffic;" DFS agents rode security for drug truck convoys, and used their police radios to check of signs of American police surveillance.[10] Eventually the DFS became so identified with the criminal drug-trafficking organizations it managed and protected, that in the 1980s the DFS was (at least officially) closed down.[11]Thus the CIA-DFS alliance was at best an uneasy one, with conflicting goals. The CIA’s concern was to manage and limit the drug traffic, while the DFS sought to manage and expand it.

Management of the drug traffic takes a variety of forms: from denial of this important power source to competing powers (the first and most vital priority), to exploitation of it to strengthen the existing state. There now exists abundant documentation that, at least since World War II, the US Government has exploited the drug traffic to finance and staff covert operations abroad. Perhaps the most conspicuous example is the massive paramilitary army organized and equipped by the CIA in Laos in the 1960s, for which drugs were the chief source of support. This alliance between the CIA and drug-financed forces has since been repeated in Afghanistan (1979), Central America (1982-87), and most recently Kosovo (1998).

It is now fairly common, even in mainstream books, to describe this CIA exploitation of the drug world as collaboration against a common enemy. For example Elaine Shannon, in a book written with DEA assistance, speaks as follows of the CIA-DFS alliance:

DFS officials worked closely with the Mexico City station of the US Central Intelligence Agency and the attaché of the the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The DFS passed along photographs and wiretapped conversations of suspected intelligence officers and provocateurs stationed in the large Soviet and Cuban missions in Mexico City....The DFS also helped the CIA track Central American leftists who passed through the Mexican capital.[12]

But it is important to remember that such alliances were often first formed in order to deny drug assets to the enemy. In Mexico as in Asia, just as in the US "Operation Underworld" on the docks of New York City, the US Government first began its drug collaborations out of fear that drug networks, if not given USG protection, would fall under that of some other foreign power.

"Operation Underworld," like its Mexican equivalent, began after signs that the Sicilian Mafia in New York, like the drug networks Latin drug networks of Central and South America, were being exploited by Axis intelligence services. The crash program of assistance to Kuomintang (KMT) drug networks in post-war Southeast Asia was motivated in part by a similar fear, that these networks would come under the sphere of mainland Chinese influence.

Thus it would be wrong to portray the CIA-drug alliance, particularly in Mexico, as one between like-minded allies. The cooperation was grounded in an original, deeper suspicion; and, especially because dealing with criminals, the fear of betrayal was never absent. This was particularly true of the DFS when guided by Luis Echeverría, a nationalist who in the late 1960s developed stronger relations between Mexico and Cuba. Some have questioned whether the increased Cuban-Mexican relations under his presidency (1970-76) were grounded partly in the drug traffic, overseen by his brother-in-law.[13]

Even in 1963 the fear of offending Mexico's (and Echeverría's) sensibilities led the CIA to cancel physical surveillance of a Soviet suspect (Valeriy Kostikov); the CIA feared detection by the DFS, who also had Kostikov under surveillance.[14] By the 1970s there were allegations that the CIA and/or FBI were using the drug traffic to introduce guns into Mexico, in order to destabilize the left-leaning Echeverria government.[15]

This is perhaps the moment to point out another special feature of the US-DFS relationship in Mexico. Both the CIA and FBI (as Shannon noted, and as we shall see) had their separate connections to the DFS and its intercept program. The US effort to wrest the drug traffic from the Nazi competition dated back to World War II, when the FBI still had responsibility for foreign intelligence operations in Latin America. Winston Scott, the CIA Station Chief in Mexico City, was a veteran of this wartime overseas FBI network; and he may still have had an allegiance to Hoover while nominally working for the CIA.[16] We shall see that on a key policy matter, the proposed torture of Oswald's contact Silvia Durán, Scott allied himself with the FBI Legal Attache and the Ambassador, against the expressed disapproval of CIA Headquarters.

What is particularly arresting about this CIA-mob nexus that produced false Oswald stories, is its suggestive overlay with those responsible for CIA-mob assassination plots. Key figures in the latter group, such as William Harvey and David Morales, did not conceal their passionate hatred for the Kennedys. It is time to focus on the CIA-mob connection in Mexico as a milieu which will help explain, not just the assassination cover-up, but the assassination itself.

The Exemption of Kryptocracies from the Rule of Law

From other sources, we learn more about the autonomy of these kryptocracies, especially the CIA. It was almost by accident that the public learned of a secret agreement, in violation of a Congressional statute, whereby the CIA was exempted from reporting crimes of which it was aware to the Justice Department. This agreement was so secret that for almost two decades successive Attorneys General were unaware of it.[17] (My understanding is that the agreement arose from a "flap" in Thailand, where a CIA officer who was about to report on the local drug traffic was murdered by another, who was working with it.)[18]

Although this agreement was temporarily ended under the Ford Administration, a new secret Memo of Understanding under Reagan again lifted the obligation to report the criminal acts of CIA assets who were drug-traffickers. I have argued elsewhere that these covert agreements have been significant factors in augmenting the flows of heroin and cocaine into this country.

Obviously a memo from the Reagan Administration is of little relevance to the Kennedy assassination. But it is of extreme relevance that a prior agreement was in force from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s, exempting the CIA from a statutory requirement to report any criminal activity by any of its employees or assets. This agreement, drawn up under Eisenhower and eventually rescinded under Gerald Ford, was so secret that the Attorneys General under JFK and LBJ (including Robert Kennedy) were never informed of it.[19] We can assume however that the agreement was known to those CIA officers who suppressed an important clue that would have led to their Soviet intercept program, and thereby obstructed a proper investigation of President Kennedy's murder.

This exemption from a statutory obligation might be considered anomalous, except that in one form or another the CIA has enjoyed such exemptions for most of its history.

Oswald, Russia, and Cuba: How the Managed Oswald Stories Led to the Warren Commission

As noted earlier, the DFS played a central role, along with the CIA, in the management of conspiratorial stories about Oswald in Mexico, including the false Oswald-Soviet intercept. The key to this procedure, as I argued in Deep Politics, was a two-fold process. Phase One put forward the phantom of an international plot, linking Oswald to the USSR, to Cuba, or to both countries together. This phantom was used to invoke the danger of a possible nuclear confrontation, which induced Chief Justice Earl Warren and other political notables to accept Phase Two, the equally false (but less dangerous) hypothesis that Oswald killed the President all by himself.

This book affords a close-up look of the genesis of the Phase-One story, and how it was first promoted and then defused by the CIA. Michael Beschloss has revealed at, at 9:20 AM on the morning of November 23, CIA Director John McCone briefed the new President. In Beschloss' words: "The CIA had information on foreign connections to the alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, which suggested to LBJ that Kennedy may have been murdered by an international conspiracy."[20] It would be wrong however to think that the CIA cover-up was limited to defusing this Phase-One impression of an international conspiracy. The CIA, by covering up the falsity of the alleged Oswald phone call to the Soviet Embassy, actually helped strengthen a spurious supposed link between Oswald and an alleged Soviet assassination expert, Valeriy Kostikov.

It is not certain whether the conspiracy McCone referred to on November 23 involved Cuba or the Soviet Union. Beschloss's account implies that McCone's "information" concerned Oswald's alleged visit in September 1963 to the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City:

A CIA memo written that day reported that Oswald had visited Mexico City in September and talked to a Soviet vice consul whom the CIA knew as a KGB expert in assassination and sabotage. The memo warned that if Oswald had indeed been part of a foreign conspiracy, he might be killed before he could reveal it to U.S. authorities.[21]

Johnson appears to have had this information in mind when, a few minutes after the McCone interview, he asked FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover if the FBI "knew any more about the visit to the Soviet embassy."[22]

But widely scattered clues, to be explored in this book, suggest that the US Government was thinking of a Cuban connection to Oswald even before the Soviet one. Already on November 22 the FBI was reporting a claim never mentioned in CIA records: that the false Oswald-Soviet phone call was made by Oswald while telephoning "from the Cuban Embassy."[23]

FBI Agent James Hosty, who handled the Oswald file in Dallas, has written that he learned later from two independent sources that at the time of Oswald's arrest,

fully armed warplanes were sent screaming toward Cuba. Just before they entered Cuban airspace, they were hastily called back. With the launching of airplanes, the entire U.S. military went on alert.[24]

These planes would have been launched from the U.S. Strike Command at McDill Air Force Base in Florida. We have a cable from U.S. Army Intelligence in Texas, dated November 22, 1963, telling the Strike Command (falsely) that Oswald had defected to Cuba in 1959 and was "a card-carrying member of the Communist Party."[25] As discussed below, these allegations are incompatible with the present Phase-Two account of Oswald's life, but were corroborated at the time. At 4:00 PM on the afternoon of November 22, Hoover told Bobby Kennedy that Oswald "went to Cuba on several occasions, but would not tell us what he went to Cuba for."[26] (There is nothing in FBI files on Oswald, as released to the public, to suggest either that Oswald had visited Cuba, or that he had been interrogated about such visits by the FBI.)

We know from other sources that Bobby Kennedy, on the afternoon of November 22, was fearful of a Cuban involvement in the assassination. Jack Anderson, the recipient of much secret CIA information, suggests that this concern may have been planted in Bobby's head by CIA Director McCone.

When CIA chief John McCone learned of the assassination, he rushed to Robert Kennedy's home in McLean, Virginia, and stayed with him for three hours. No one else was admitted. Even Bobby's priest was turned away. McCone told me he gave the attorney general a routine briefing on CIA business and swore that Castro's name never came up....Sources would later tell me that McCone anguished with Bobby over the terrible possibility that the assassination plots sanctioned by the president's own brother may have backfired. Then the following day, McCone briefed President Lyndon Johnson and his National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy. Afterward McCone told subordinates -- who later filled me in -- what happened at that meeting. The grim McCone shared with Johnson and Bundy a dispatch from the U.S. embassy in Mexico City, strongly suggesting that Castro was behind the assassination.[27]

Such dispatches did emanate from the Mexico City embassy, although we know of none as early as November 23. Three days later the Ambassador, Thomas Mann, the CIA Station Chief, Winston Scott, and the FBI Legal Attache, Clark Anderson, enthusiastically promoted wild allegations that Oswald's act had been plotted and paid for inside the Cuban Embassy (see Chapter IV).[28] We know that McCone was wedded to this story, and continued to share it confidentially even after its narrator, the Nicaraguan double agent Gilberto Alvarado, had first recanted it on November 30 (see Chapter VIII).

The Early Oswald-Cuba Information Gap

The publicly released CIA record shows no trace of any linkage between Oswald and Cuba from Mexico until late November 23, long after McCone saw the President. But as we shall see this absence is itself suspicious, indeed hard to believe. There are too many loose clues that CIA Headquarters already had heard more about Oswald and Cuba than the purportedly complete record of CIA cables would account for. This would suggest that the record has been smoothed over to efface any trace of a credible Cuban implication.

For example, one of the CIA officers in Mexico City who worked on the pre-assassination Oswald file "was certain that a second cable reporting Oswald's contacts with the Cuban Embassy had been sent to Headquarters prior to the assassination."[29] But there is no surviving CIA trace of any reason on November 22 to link Oswald, or the assassination, to Cuba, or possibly covert action against Cuba.

The FBI, in contrast, has now released a November 22 memo that already linked Oswald to the Cuban Embassy in Mexico:

By Secret teletype dated 10/10/63 CIA advised...that a sensitive source on 10-1-63 had reported that Lee Oswald contacted the Soviet Embassy...inquiring whether the Embassy had received any news concerning a telegram....(The Legal Attache in Mexico advised 11-22-63 that this was a telephone call made from the Cuban Embassy to the Soviet Embassy and a transcript thereof is being forwarded.)"[30]

There is no known corroboration for the Legal Attache's claim on November 22 that the call was made from the Cuban Embassy. However this early mention of the Cuban Embassy suggests that the FBI in Mexico City may indeed have had its own sources of information, including both intercepts and informants. (It is now officially admitted that the CIA had penetration agents inside the Cuban Embassy, and the FBI may have as well.)[31]

Perhaps the strongest indication of deeper FBI knowledge is a CIA memo of December 11; this argued against the public release of the first FBI report on the case, "because the Soviets would see that the FBI had advance information on the reason for Oswald's visit to the Soviet Embassy."[32] Advance information???

It is commonplace now to attribute the cover-up to early reports about Oswald and Cuba. For example, Anderson suggests that a cover-up was ordered by Johnson himself, on the basis of what McCone told him on November 23 about Mexico City. According to Anderson, McCone argued that

Nikita Khrushchev was on the ropes inside the Kremlin, humiliated over backing down...during the Cuban missile crisis. [This was indeed true, as his ouster in 1964 would show.] If Castro were to be accused of the Kennedy assassination, Americans would demand revenge against Cuba, and Khrushchev would face another Cuban crisis....This time he might do something reckless and provoke a nuclear war, which would cost forty million lives. It was a staggering figure that the new president repeated to others.[33]

Telephone transcripts in the LBJ Library confirm that LBJ used this argument to coerce Senator Richard Russell into serving on the Commission.[34] Chief Justice Earl Warren told William Manchester that Johnson persuaded him to lead the Warren Commission by raising the same threat of war against Castro and Khrushchev: "Why, if Khrushchev moved on us, he could kill 39 million in an hour."[35]

The Manipulation or Management of the Mexico Oswald Stories

Whatever the details, we see how important were CIA stories about Oswald's foreign involvements in securing a Commission committed from the outset to the finding that Oswald acted alone. The CIA's role might be defensible if the information were objective and well-grounded. But as this book will show, the stories of Oswald's Cuban involvements were virtually worthless. The two main sources for them, Silvia Durán and Gilberto Alvarado, both changed their stories repeatedly, under the threat or actual application of torture by the Mexican secret police. Alvarado actually recanted his story, as the Warren Commission was informed; however the Warren Commission did not learn that Alvarado claimed to have been told that, if he did not recant, he would be hung by his testicles.[36] And the supposed objective record of intercepted phone calls by Oswald is, as we shall see, just as seriously flawed.

In the days after the murders in Dallas, the U.S. was flooded with dubious stories, most of them swiftly discredited, linking Oswald to either a Cuban or Soviet conspiracy. Those which most preoccupied the FBI and CIA all came out of Mexico. These stories exhibited certain common characteristics.

1) They all came either directly from an intelligence source, or from someone in the hands of an intelligence agency. Nearly always, the agency involved was the Mexican DFS or secret police. The DFS, along with the Nicaraguan intelligence service, which was also a source, were under CIA tutelage.

2) The stories changed over time, to support either a pro-conspiratorial hypothesis (Phase One), or a rebuttal of this (Phase Two).

3) The Warren Commision was led to believe that the Phase-One stories were without basis. In fact a number of unresolved anomalies suggest that behind them was some deeper truth, still not revealed.

4) As just noted, the two main sources, Silvia Durán and Gilberto Alvarado, gave varying stories while detained by the DFS. Of the two, Durán was actually tortured, and Alvarado reportedly threatened with torture. Far from regretting this use of torture, the Ambassador, Thomas Mann, the CIA Station Chief, Winston Scott, and the FBI Legal Attache, Clark Anderson, argued strenuously, in the face of Washington's expressed disapproval, for Durán's arrest and rearrest by the DFS, and that DFS torture be used again.[37]

In retrospect, these stories should not have been taken seriously. In fact the CIA was able to rely on them, not as a source of truth, but as a source of coercive influence over the rest of government. It will I think help us to understand what was going on if we refer to the stories, not as "information" or even as "allegations," but as managed stories. We shall defer until later chapters the question of who were the ultimate managers -- the DFS, U.S. officers in Mexico, or (as I shall argue) higher authorities in Washington.

The full history is complex and confused, with many unanswered questions. But nearly all of these managed stories, along with others outside Mexico to be discussed later, resolve into this simple pattern of a Phase One/Phase Two evolution.

1) Silvia Durán's managed story:

Luis Echeverría, the Mexican Minister of Gobernaciòn (which directed the DFS), told Winston Scott on November 23 that Silvia Durán had given a "written statement attesting to two visits by Oswald."[38] According to the sequence of documents in Oswald's 201 file, no written statement from Durán's DFS interview reached CIA Headquarters until November 28, after Langley had asked for it on November 27.[39]

There is however evidence that the CIA HQ received a written Durán statement, not in the Oswald 201 file, from a back channel.[40] Already on November 24 we find a cable from John Scelso at Headquarters, who has already read it: "After analyzing all the [cable] traffic and reading the statement of Silvia Duran, one important question still puzzles us."[41] Even earlier, on November 23, the CIA opined in a Headquarters memo to the FBI that Oswald probably wanted a Soviet visa first, then a Cuban transit visa while waiting for it. The memo added that "This is also the conclusion reached by Silvia Duran, the Mexican national employee of the Cuban Embassy who dealt with OSWALD."[42] Durán could indeed easily have voiced this opinion, but there is nothing in the Oswald 201 file that indicates how CIA HQ could have known this.

It seems likely that the 10-page written Durán statement sent on November 27 was designed to replace an earlier, suppressed statement referred to in the CIA cable of November 23. Summarizing the contents of this statement, the cable repeated the Phase-One allegation that Oswald said he was a "Communist and admirer of Castro."[43] But what the CIA found worthy of reporting on November 23 (that Oswald said he was a Communist) has disappeared from the November 26 10-page written statement, as later from two subsequent differing versions of Durán's November 23 interview, all of them Phase Two.[44]

None of the Phase-One or Phase-Two versions mention what Silvia told the Cuban Ambassador after her release: that the DFS asked her "if she had personal relations and even if she had intimate [i.e. sexual] relations with him." (In his phone call reporting this to the Cuban President, overheard by the CIA, the Ambassador also commented on the bruises inflicted on Durán during the interview.)[45]

From whatever source, rumors of a Duran-Oswald sexual relationship were soon floating through the US Embassy in Mexico City in the first week after the assassination, when they were heard by an FBI agent, Larry Keenan, who had been sent down by Washington.[46] A Cuban exile who was also a CIA agent, Salvador Diaz Verson, claimed to have heard in the offices of the Mexico City newspaper Excelsior, on November 25, that the DFS had learned from Durán that Oswald "had contacted DURAN, and had stayed in her home in Mexico City."[47] (Silvia Durán herself testified that the DFS had given the results of her first interrogation to Excelsior, where a version of them was published.)[48]

As late as 1967 Durán reportedly told a CIA agent, LIRING-3, that in her November 23 interrogation she had been "interviewed thoroughly and beaten until she admitted that she had an affair with Oswald."[49] CIA Station Chief Win Scott later reported on this Phase-One allegation as a fact, "the fact that Silvia Durán had sexual intercourse with Lee Harvey Oswald on several occasions when the latter was in Mexico City."[50]

A decade later Durán confirmed to the House Assassinations Committee staff that she had been questioned about sexual relations with Oswald, which she linked to the claim that "we were Communists and that we were planning the Revolution."[51]

all the time they tell me that I was a Communist...and they insisted that I was a very important person for...the Cuban Government and that I was the link for the International Communists -- the Cuban Communists, the Mexican Communists and the American Communists, and that we were going to kill Kennedy, and I was the link. For them I was very important.[52]

We shall see that the theory of an international Communist assassination conspiracy, with the Oswald-Durán relationship at its center, was one propounded by Durán's cousin-in-law, Elena Garro de Paz, who was already in DFS custody. Durán blamed her "cousin" [i.e. Garro] for her arrest by the DFS.[53]

Whatever the details, there is a conspicuous contrast between the Phase-One accounts of this November 23 interview, beginning with the missing "written statement" of November 24, and the extant Phase-Two accounts.[54] None of the extant versions mention either a conspiracy or a sexual relationship. Yet a State Department officer later told Secretary of State William Rogers that he had heard from the Deputy Chief of the CIA Station (Alan White) that the DFS had indeed interrogated Silvia Durán about the substance of the Garro allegations.[55]

The credibility of the Durán allegations is still further complicated by the hints and rumors, explored in the Lopez report, that Silvia Durán "may have been a source of information for either the CIA or the Mexicans."[56]

2. Gilberto Alvarado's managed story:

Another version of the Garro sexual assassination conspiracy theory was put forward on November 25 by an agent of Nicaraguan dictator Somoza. In brief, Oswald was supposed to have volunteered in the Cuban Embassy to kill President Kennedy; and to have received $6,500 in cash for the job (in front of Alvarado, a stranger). Alvarado's claim also overlapped in vivid particulars with the Garro story, even to such details as Oswald's companions (a tall thin Negro with reddish hair, a blonde-haired hippie with a Canadian passport), and the intimate embrace he received from a girl inside the Embassy.[57]

There was an inherent problem with Alvarado's story, so grave that it raises questions why Alvarado was ever treated with such seriousness by the US Embassy in Mexico. This is that Alvarado claimed to have seen Oswald in the Cuban Embassy on September 18, a date when (as the FBI quickly established) Oswald was still in New Orleans. This problem vanished when Alvarado amended the date to September 28.[58] This happened to be exactly the date which the CIA (falsely, I shall argue below) placed Oswald in the Cuban Embassy. Given the extent of bad faith misreporting by the CIA about Oswald in the Cuban Embassy, we have to ask if this "correction" of Alvarado's story had not been inspired by his CIA or DFS interrogators.

The Phase-One Alvarado story was also soon retracted, and replaced by a Phase-Two denial. On November 30 the DFS told the CIA "that Alvarado has signed a statement saying that his story of seeing Oswald inside the Cuban Embassy is completely false." This information was immediately forwarded to CIA headquarters, who in turn forwarded it to the White House.[59] This tied up the "lead being pursued in Mexico," which, as Hoover told LBJ on November 29, delayed the FBI's hope "to have the investigation wrapped up" by that time.[60]

There is more to the Alvarado story. As we have seen, he had retracted his retraction by December 3, claiming it was obtained under threat of DFS torture. Alvarado subsequently underwent a lie detector test by a technician from Washington, and failed it.[61]

The essential point is that there was both a Phase-One and a Phase-Two version of the managed Alvarado story, which alternated in close synchrony with the political needs of the moment. As the Washington Post has noted, a Phase-One version of the Alvarado story reached Lyndon Johnson soon before he coerced Warren into accepting the Chairmanship of the Warren Commission:

Later that afternoon [at 4:30 PM] November 29, Johnson asked Warren to come to the White House. It was around this time that Johnson received a call [at 1:40 PM] from Hoover updating the investigation. The "angle in Mexico is giving us a great deal of trouble," Hoover said. Oswald had not been in Mexico on Sept. 18, as Alvarado had [originally] said, but Alvarado had now changed the date to Sept. 28, a day Oswald was known to have been there.[62]

It is not known if Johnson brought up the Alvarado story when pressuring Warren. Certainly other cables had reached the White House on the same day, which weakened rather than increased the likelihood of Cuban involvement. A CIA cable to the White House at 1:30 PM had notified the White House that the Mexicans interviewing Silvia Durán now believed she had been involved only with visas.[63] A cable at 4:15 told the White House that Alvarado did not recognize a photo of Durán, and the Mexicans now doubted his story.[64] From the CIA's record, it would appear that it was Johnson, rather than the CIA, who selectively screened the data to secure Earl Warren's compliance.

The Alvarado story in its brief and varied career was quintessentially managed, and manageable. Deeply flawed from the outset by an impossible alleged date, it was turned up, and then turned off, to meet the changing needs of his managers. There are indications that the Mexico City Station knew from the outset that the Alvarado story was false, and may indeed have planted it. According to a later report from CIA HQ to the Warren Commission,

Alvarado was known to CIA as a former informant of a Central American security service and to have been used to penetrate communist guerrilla groups. He said that he was in Mexico City still working for his service, trying to get himself accepted by the Cubans as a communist so they would take him to Cuba for guerrilla training.[65]


DEA Chief Robert Bonner said CIA Smuggled Drugs

L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."—Senator John Kerry (1996)

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. -1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, CIA Headquarters
Quote 0 0

But in the initial cable to HQ about Alvarado, he was identified only as a Nicaraguan who "claims he awaiting false Mexican documentation prior receiving sabotage training Cuba."[66] The author of this cable, "M.C. Choaden," has been identified by ARRB staff as David Phillips, a specialist in disinformation who, as the Lopez Report noted, later lied significantly about his role in the CIA's investigation of the JFK assassination.[67]

In a second cable, using a different pseudonym ("L.F. Barker"), David Phillips reported that Alvarado had admitted he was a member of the Nicaraguan Secret Service, but saw that as no reason to question his story. On the contrary, Phillips described Alvarado as a "young, quiet, very serious person, who speaks with conviction."[68] As late as November 27, Ambassador Mann reported that the CIA ("CAS") officer interviewing Alvarado (presumably David Phillips) "was impressed by Alvarado."[69] Still later, as noted above, Alvarado modified his story to bring the date of his Oswald observance exactly into line with the date, September 28, when the CIA (wrongly) believed Oswald to have been there.

It should be understood that the Nicaraguan Secret Service, like other intelligence networks in Mexico and Central America, worked closely with the CIA. It later emerged that the CIA in Managua had already prepared several reports of which Alvarado, while in the Nicaraguan Secret Service, was the ultimate source.[70] Thus the FBI seems to have got it right when in its own reports it described Alvarado as a "source of CIA's" or "CIA source."[71]

The most important part of this CIA connection is that, in Nicaragua exactly as in Mexico, the CIA's intelligence sources were grounded in the kryptonomy. It has been known for some time that the CIA's chief asset in Nicaragua was the leadership of the corrupt National Guard, which has been called "one of the most corrupt military establishments in the world.[72]

We now learn that Alvarado, the "CIA source," reported "directly to General Gustavo Montiel, Chief of the Intelligence Service of the Nicaraguan Army."[73] As we shall see, Montiel was later denounced as a principal in a "massive car theft ring" run by Norwin Meneses, described in other CIA cables as "the kingpin of narcotics traffickers in Nicaragua."[74] We shall return to this striking similarity between these CIA assets -- Montiel in Nicaragua, Nazar Haro in Mexico -- that both were said to be involved in networks dealing simultaneously in massive car smuggling and in narcotics.

Given the known ambiguities about Alvarado's double identity as an intelligence agent, one can easily fault the leaders of the US Embassy in Mexico (Ambassador Mann, Station Chief Scott, and FBI Legat Anderson), for claiming that "there appears to be a strong possibility that a down payment was made to Oswald in the Cuban Embassy here."[75] But it is not clear that the management of the Alvarado story was integral to the Kennedy assassination plot. It is clear that the CIA was and is hiding something about Oswald and the Cuban Embassy. The Alvarado story might have been no more than a convenient diversion: a chance to focus attention on a different (and false) narrative.

3. The Elena Garro de Paz managed story.

One reason the Alvarado story could be endorsed vigorously by CIA Station Chief Scott was that it was corroborated in small details by other Phase-One stories, also from intelligence sources, and later similarly retracted.[76] One of these corroborative stories was directly attributed to "a CIA man in Dallas," who allegedly told reporter Jerry O'Leary that Oswald returned from Mexico "with $5,000 which he did not have when he went into Mexico." O'Leary telephoned this information to FBI Headquarters.[77] The FBI account of this event commented, "In other words, the CIA man in Dallas leaked information to O'Leary."[78] However a CIA cable the next day reported from Mexico the rumor that Oswald had deposited $5000 in the United States after he got back from Mexico, and attributed the story to "an ODENVY [FBI] man named Clark."[79]

No Phase-One allegation corroborated Alvarado more closely than that of the well-known right-wing Mexican writer Elena Garro de Paz. She claimed she had been present at a party where she had heard a Communist discussion of Kennedy, in which "they came to the conclusion that the only solution was to kill him."[80] She had also seen Oswald with the same people at a party given by Rubén Durán, the brother-in-law of Silvia Durán, "who she later learned was Oswald's mistress while he was here." In accounts given to the American Embassy in 1965, she linked Oswald to the same striking companions as did Alvarado: "a Latin American Negro man with red hair" and someone with "long blond hair."[81]

When I wrote about the Garro allegations in 1993, I discounted them, on the grounds that Alvarado's story of a "Negro with reddish hair" had already been published in September 1964 in the Warren Report.[82] I now think it much more likely that some version of the Garro story had reached the DFS, or been planted by them, in the days following the assassination. No one disputes Garro's story that the DFS took her into protective custody between November 23 and November 30. Her story would explain why on the same day the DFS arrested, not only Silvia, but her husband Horacio, sister-in-law Lydia Durán, and brother-in-law Rubén Durán and his wife Betty (all placed by Garro in Oswald's presence at the incriminating party).[83] It would also explain why, on November 23, the DFS was grilling Silvia so aggressively about her sexual affair and Communist plotting with Oswald.[84] Finally it would explain why Silvia on November 23 attributed her arrest to her cousin [i.e. Garro] whom she "does not like."[85]

The management of the Garro story was different from those of Silvia Durán and Alvarado. It was a Phase-One story from start to finish; as it never reached Washington through the usual CIA channels, so there was no need to reshape or retract it. The management consisted of keeping her in DFS custody, at a time when FBI personnel should have been interviewing her.[86]

4. The Management of the False Oswald Intercepts -- October 1:

It has been customary to contrast the fluid, changing stories about Oswald from human sources with the allegedly "hard," objective reports of Oswald himself talking, or being discussed, in intercepts obtained from a tap on Mexican phone lines into the Soviet Embassy.[87] However this intercept record is deeply flawed, and in part almost certainly falsified. In addition to containing false information, the intercepts share two other features with the managed stories discussed above. They supplied the changing need for first Phase-One and then Phase-Two stories. And they too reached the CIA via the Mexican DFS, the most likely candidate to have falsified them. (Although it is customary to talk of "CIA intercepts," the initial tapping and taping were handled by the DFS.)

It is helpful to consider the intercepts in the chronological order in which they reached CIA Headquarters. We see then that the intercepts can be divided into two categories: two early Phase-One intercepts, hinting that Oswald was part of an international Communist conspiracy, and a host of later Phase-Two intercepts, clarifying that Oswald's sole purpose for visiting the Soviet and Cuban Consulates was in connection with obtaining a Cuban visa.

We have already referred to the suggestive Phase-One character of the first intercept, the only one forwarded to Washington before the assassination. This linked the name of Lee Oswald to a Soviet Consul, Kostikov, whom the CIA later identified (at least for a time) as a KGB Agent from Department Thirteen, specializing in assassinations. The cable deserves to be quoted verbatim:

Acc[ording] LIENVOY [the CIA's phone intercept program] 1 Oct 63, American male who spoke broken Russian said his name Lee Oswald (phonetic), stated he at Sovemb on 28 Sept when spoke with Consul whom he believed be Valeriy Vladimirovich Kostikov. Subj asked Sov guard Ivan Obyedkov who answered if there anything new re telegram to Washington. Obyedkov upon checking said nothing received yet, but request had been sent.[88]

Almost certainly this speaker was not the Lee Harvey Oswald who visited the Soviet Union, and spoke relatively fluent Russian. No less an authority than J. Edgar Hoover advised Lyndon Johnson of this by telephone on the morning of November 23: "We have up here the tape and the photograph of the man who was at the Soviet embassy, using Oswald's name. That picture and the tape do not correspond to this man's voice, nor to his appearance."[89] Audio tapes for these LBJ phone calls have been preserved at the LBJ Library. However nothing of this conversation can be heard on the relevant tape; it would appear to have been erased.[90]

Hoover's reasons for saying this were laid out in a Letterhead Memorandum sent out on the same day to the President and to the Secret Service:

The Central Intelligence Agency advised that on October 1, 1963, an extremely sensitive source had reported that an individual identified himself as Lee Oswald, who contacted the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City inquiring as to any messages. Special Agents of this Bureau, who have conversed with Oswald in Dallas, Texas, have observed photographs of the individual referred to above and have listened to a recording of his voice. These Special Agents are of the opinion that the above-referred-to individual was not Lee Harvey Oswald."[91]

Other FBI cables and memoranda confirm that the tape was indeed flown up on a US Navy plane from Mexico City to Dallas, where FBI agents confirmed the voice was not Oswald's.

John Newman has shown in detail how this initial candor was obfuscated by subsequent clumsy attempts by the Mexico City CIA to assert, falsely, that the tape, and others like it, had been erased.[92] By noon EST November 23, the Mexico City CIA Station had cabled headquarters to say that "Station unable compare voice as first tape erased prior receipt second call" (on October 1).[93] This false claim was soon abandoned. A headquarters memo reports that by 7 AM EST November 24, headquarters knew that the first tape had been reviewed, and the voice found to be identical with that in the other intercepts.[94] Ann Goodpasture, who handled the intercepts in the Mexico City CIA station, has confirmed that she herself commented on an internal document that the voices on the first and other intercepts had been compared (by “Feinglass,” [Tarasoff] the responsible translator) before the assassination.[95]

Later on the same critical day of November 23, the CIA reverted to a second false cover story: that all the Oswald intercept tapes had been erased by that time, not just the first. The FBI notified its Dallas office that evening that “With regard to the tapes [deletion] referred to herein, CIA has advised that these tapes have been erased and are not available for review."[96] This crucial lie (concealing the existence of evidence which could have led to a conspirator in the assassination) was repeated the next day in a cable from CIA Mexico City to headquarters: “HQ has full transcripts all pertinent calls. Regret complete recheck shows tapes for this period already erased.”[97]

However contemporary CIA documents suggest that comparisons of the voices on the tapes had been made, including tapes only listened to after November 22.[98] I do not accept this as conclusive evidence of the survival of the pre-assassination tapes, because (as I shall argue shortly), nothing said by the CIA about these alleged Oswald intercepts can be accepted as certain. What is certain is that in April 1964 two members of the Warren Commission staff, William Coleman and David Slawson, visited the Mexico City CIA Station and listened to the pre-assassination tape of the man identifying himself as “Lee Oswald.”[99] So the tape certainly existed on November 23, when FBI agents are supposed to have listened to it. And the rebuttal that the tapes had been destroyed is certainly false.

In 1976 the staff of the Church Committee discovered the evidence that the October 1 tape had been listened to, revealing the role of an Oswald impersonator; and they reported also the ensuing cover-up. Their staff report, only recently released, noted cogently as follows:

On November 25, 1963 – some two days after Dallas cabled the Bureau that the tapes had been erased – Bureau supervisor Burt Turner cabled legat stating: “If tapes covering any contact subject [Oswald] with Soviet or Cuban embassies available forward to Bureau for laboratory examination. Include tapes previous reviewed Dallas if they were returned to you.”[100]

But this explosive staff report was ignored in Book V of the Church Committee’s Final Report, which purported to review the performance of the intelligence agencies in the investigation of the assassination of President John. F. Kennedy [101] In a misleadingly detailed chronology of CIA and FBI behavior on November 23 and 24, 1963, the central problem of the October 1 tape in Dallas is ignored altogether.[102]

The cover-up was perpetuated, in a more sophisticated manner, by the House Select Committee on Assassinations. Its report stated, no less than three times, that no "recording of Oswald's voice" was ever "received" or "listened to" in the United States.[103] This language is a lawyer's subterfuge: what was received and listened to was precisely not a recording of Oswald's voice.[104]

In contrast to other "benign" "Phase-Two" cover-ups of a false Oswald-Soviet link, this cover-up in November 1963 can only be called sinister. The October 8 intercept cable was the strongest single piece of evidence for an illusory Oswald-Soviet assassination conspiracy. By concealing its falsity, the CIA and FBI did not just keep alive the illusion. More importantly, they obstructed the pursuit of the most important available clue at that time of a high-level assassination conspiracy.

Digression: The October 1 Kostikov Intercept and the November 9 "Kostin" Letter

This clue did not stand alone. It dovetailed with a letter, purportedly from Oswald, which was mailed from Irving, Texas on November 12 to the Soviet Embassy in Washington. In this letter, the writer spoke of "my meetings [sic] with comrade Kostin in the Embassy of the Soviet Union, Mexico City." The letter also alluded suggestively to the lack of time there "to complete our business." Even more alarmingly, the author revealed knowledge that the Consul in the Cuban Embassy had been "replaced."[105] (The CIA confirmed later that Consul Azque "was scheduled to leave in October but did not leave until November 18.")[106] And finally the writer spoke of speaking with Dallas FBI Agent James Hosty on November 1, a claim which would cause considerable post-assassination embarrassment to the FBI at the very highest levels.[107]

The Warren Commission accepted the genuineness of this letter, largely because of corroborating evidence in the form of a rough draft, said to be in Oswald's handwriting, which Ruth Paine allegedly discovered and then after the assassination gave to James Hosty.[108] The Soviets however considered the letter to be a fake. In a post-assassination analysis they observed that the letter was typed, whereas all of Oswald's other correspondence had been in his own handwriting. As the Soviet Ambassador pointed out at the time, the tone was also quite dissimilar to anything Oswald had communicated before; it gave "the impression we had close ties with Oswald and were using him for some purposes of our own."[109]

I myself suspect that neither the letter nor the rough draft were genuine. There is no evidence that Oswald had plural "meetings" with Kostikov; I doubt that he had any. There is only one slight passing reference to the question of Oswald’s and Marina’s possible return to the Soviet Union, which had been the sole topic of their urgent appeals to the Washington Consulate in July.[110] It is surprising that there is no reference whatsoever to the Consulate’s rejection, just one month earlier in October, of Marina’s application to return to the Soviet Union.[111]

What is particularly suspect about the November 9 Kostin letter is its timing. After being intercepted by the FBI on its way to the Soviet Embassy in Washington, the letter was summarized and communicated to Dallas, where the news arrived on November 22. Hosty thus only learned of it right after the assassination. Had he learned earlier, Oswald might have been put under surveillance; and the assassination could not have unfolded as it did.

As for the rough draft, I believe that it was composed, as well as discovered, after the assassination: to corroborate, and also neutralize, the dubious Kostin letter. The "draft" pointedly converts the typed letter's Phase-One language ("time to complete our business") into an innocuous description of Kostikov's role ("time to assist me").[112]

Quite independently, and for different reasons, the researcher Jerry Rose also argued that "the typed version was generated before the handwritten one," the latter designed "to create proof that Oswald had written the letter."[113] Among other things, Rose pointed out that six words spelt incorrectly in the "final" typed version, are in fact spelt correctly in the "draft"; while there are no misspellings in the "draft" that are corrected in the "final" version.[114] It is worth adding that virtually all the evidence that arrived separately to the authorities from the Paine household -- the Walker note, the pristine Mexican bus ticket -- is suspect.[115]

The Kostikov intercept, and the supporting Kostin letter, were and remain two of the most incontrovertible clues of a pre-assassination conspiracy. The CIA and FBI conspired together to suppress the known fact that the voice of the intercept was not Oswald's; and the CIA, at least, saw this as an operational matter.[116] The CIA's behavior here was in accordance with its agreement with the Department of Justice. Its priority was to protect its sources and methods -- in this case, one of its most secret and important intercept operations. By prior agreement, it put this priority ahead of the pursuit of justice -- in this case, the major political crime of the century.

The FBI handling of the Kostin letter was also deficient. Ruth Paine claimed that it had been typed on her typewriter; but apparently this claim was never tested, as it should and easily could have been. Whoever did have control of the originating typewriter (I personally doubt that it was Ruth Paine's) should be considered a prima facie suspect in the murder conspiracy.[117]

4. The Management of the False Oswald Intercepts -- September 28:

The second intercept forwarded to Washington, at 2 PM EST on November 23, must have seemed even more indicative of a mysterious relationship between Oswald, the Cubans, and the Soviets. Keep in mind that at this stage the cables to Washington had not yet indicated that Oswald's visits to the two Embassies were in pursuit of a visa:

On 28 Sep 63 Silvia Duran Cuban Emb called Sov Consul saying Northamerican there who had been Sov Emb and wish speak with Consul. Uniden Northamerican told Sov consul quote "I was in your Emb and spoke to your consul. I was just now at your Emb and they took my address." Sov Consul says, "I know that." Uniden Northamerican speaks Russian "I did not know it then. I went to the Cuban Emb to ask them for my address because they have it" Sov Consul "Why don't you come again and leave your address with us It is not far from the Cuban Emb". Uniden Northamerican "Well, I'll be there right away."[118]

This strange intercept might have appeared credible if the DFS had truly heard from Silvia Durán in her first interview (as alleged by Salvador Diaz Verson) that Oswald "had stayed in her home in Mexico City."[119]

Nevertheless, as discussed below, this alleged intercept is even more improbable than the first. Both the Soviet and the Cuban Embassies were closed to the public on September 28, a Saturday. Durán has consistently testified that she made only one phone call on Oswald's behalf, on Friday September 27; and that she did not see Oswald again on Saturday (3 AH 49-51). MEXI 7023 notes further that the unidentified Northamerican "spoke terrible, hardly recognizable Russian;" as already noted, Oswald was relatively fluent in Russian.

In 1993 a new witness claimed that, although the Soviet Embassy was closed to the public on Saturday, Oswald was indeed admitted there. This witness was Oleg Nechiporenko, a Soviet KGB official who claimed to taken part in a Saturday morning meeting in the Embassy with Oswald and also Kostikov.[120] However Nechiporenko also denied strenuously, on videotape, that there could have been any phone calls into the Soviet Embassy on September 28; because the switchboard was closed.[121]

The September 28 "address" intercept, is even more than the October 1 "Kostikov" intercept, an important clue as to the perpetrators of the Kennedy assassination. It is possible that on October 1, the Soviet phone and CIA intercept program were exploited by an outsider, about whom we know only that his Russian was bad.[122] If Durán and Nechiporenko are correct, however, the alleged "address" intercept of September 28, did not occur at all, at least in its purported form of a phone call to the Soviet Embassy. In this case we would have a strong clue that conspirators to frame Oswald in a Phase-One conspiracy existed within the LIENVOY intercept process, either in the CIA, or (as I shall suggest) within the DFS.

Let me summarize the arguments that the "address" intercept of September 28 was a fake through and through:

1) Both the Cuban Consulate and the Soviet Consulate were closed on September 28.

2) Silvia Durán has testified repeatedly that on September 28 Oswald was not in the Cuban Consulate, where their voices are alleged to have been overheard (3 AH 49-50).

3) Oleg Nechiporenko of the Soviet Embassy is the chief source supporting the claim that Oswald was in the Soviet Embassy on September 28. Yet he has stated, on video, that the telephone switchboard was closed on September 28, and that there could have been no phone conversations on that day.

4) The voice said to be Oswald's was reportedly that of the first "Kostikov" intercept, and if so not that of the Dallas Lee Harvey Oswald.[123]

Response to the Phase-One Intercepts

It was in response to these two intercepts, but especially the second, that the CIA Station Chief moved unilaterally to have the Mexican DFS arrest Silvia Durán:

Silvia DURAN, the girl who put Oswald in touch with the Soviet Embassy, is a Mexican citizen. It is suggested that she be arrested as soon as possible by the Mexican authorities and held incommunicado until she can be questioned on the matter. She lives at Bahia de Morlaco #74. Her mother lives at Ebro # 12. Her brother [i.e. brother-in-law Rubén Durán] lives at Herodoto #14."[124] Note that the CIA already had information on both Silvia and Rubén Durán, and may have been responsible for the latter's arrest as well.[125]

Four days later this second intercept was being characterized by Win Scott in Phase-Two language:

A telephone call...by Silvia DURAN who puts on an unidentified norteamerican man who tells the Soviet that he was just at their Embassy and wants to give them his address. The Soviet tells him to return to the Embassy with the address.[126]

But the ominous importance attached to it originally is reflected in the tone of the questions the CIA (apparently CIA station chief Scott in Mexico) prepared on November 24 or 25:

Was the assassination of President Kennedy planned by Fidel CASTRO Ruz; and were the final details worked out inside the Cuban Embassy in Mexico?....

Did the Cuban Embassy furnish him a place to stay in Mexico City? It is reliably reported that OSWALD did not know his address in Mexico City, but the Cuban Embassy did know his address in Mexico City....

If CASTRO planned that OSWALD assassinate President Kennedy, did the Soviets have any knowledge of these plans?[127]

That Scott formulated these questions on November 25 suggests that he already contemplated the rearrest and reinterview of Silvia Durán (as he and Ambassador Mann, along with the FBI attache, formally requested one day later).[128] Indeed the ominous questions may have contributed to Durán's rearrest, after they were read on the night of November 25 to the President of Mexico.[129] If so, the apparently fortuitous arrival of Alvarado on November 25 fit into a project already formed in the mind of the Mexico Chief of Station.

The Arrival of the Phase-Two "Visa" Intercepts

Meanwhile, late on November 23 (according to Oswald's 201 file), Washington received its first Phase-Two version of why Oswald had visited the two Embassies. About five hours after the second Phase-One cable arrived, Washington read for the first time additional intercept transcripts suggesting that someone ("probably Oswald") had sought Durán's help in getting a Cuban transit visa in order to go to the Soviet Union.[130] This more benign alternative was soon corroborated by the first report we have of Durán's statement after being arrested.[131]

It is often assumed that the Phase-Two "visa" intercepts corroborate the Phase-Two testimony from Silvia Durán about Oswald's desire for a visa. In one respect, this is not true. Early reports of Silvia Durán's testimony say that the Soviets said on the phone that Oswald's case "would have to be referred to Moscow."[132] This accords with the language typed on to Oswald's visa application, that the Soviets said "that they had to wait for authority from Moscow."[133] But the transcript of the alleged Durán phone call at 4:26 PM on September 27 has the "outside man" (i.e. the Soviet official) saying, just as clearly, "we have to await the approval of Washington" ("deben de esperar la contestacion de Washington").[134] The reference to Washington here alludes back to, and puts a Phase-Two spin on, the reference in the Phase-One Kostikov intercept, when Oswald allegedly asked "if there anything new re telegram to Washington."[135] It cannot however be reconciled with the Durán testimony and the visa application. Either the intercept or the testimony (if not both) has to be false.

The belated appearance of these Phase-Two intercepts (about a visa) poses some very embarrassing questions about the CIA's performance. Station Chief Win Scott later wrote in his autobiographical manuscript, Foul Foe, that

Lee Harvey Oswald became a person of great interest to us during this 27 September to 2 October, 1963 period...[In] the Warren Commission Report [p. 777] the erroneous statement was made that it was not known until after the assassination that Oswald had visited the Cuban Embassy!...Every piece of information concerning Lee Harvey Oswald was reported immediately after it was received....These reports were made on all his contacts with both the Cuban Consulate and the Soviets.[136]

The Lopez Report gathered corroborating reports, principally from the two Russian translators, that Oswald was already of interest to the CIA Station before the October 1 intercept, and that Oswald (as Scott wrote elsewhere) had asked the Soviet Embassy for financial assistance. If such an explosive "assistance" intercept ever existed, official traces of it have now disappeared.[137]

Scott’s claim of pre-assassination reporting on Oswald in the Cuban Embassy, never officially admitted or revealed, is corroborated also by Ray Rocca’s deposition in 1978 to the House Select Committee.[138]Cumulatively these reports are further evidence that cables about Oswald in the Cuban Embassy reached headquarters by a back channel. This strengthens the hypothesis, to be explored in Chapter VIII, that there was a pre-assassination CIA operation involving Oswald and Cuba. Such an operation, at least in its Mexico City aspects, would almost certainly have been directed by David Phillips.

As noted elsewhere, there are other signs that pre-assassination knowledge involving Oswald and the Cuban Embassy has been suppressed. For some reason the FBI already associated Oswald with the Cuban Embassy in a memorandum of November 22, based on a phone call from the Legal Attache in Mexico City.[139]

But Scott's claim in his manuscript is hard to reconcile with his reaction to the second Phase-One intercept (about Oswald's going to the Cuban Embassy for his address). If Scott did already know about intercepts linking Oswald to a visa application, there is no excuse for his having linked the address intercept to a Cuban assassination plot. If he did not know about the visa intercepts, it would appear that these Phase-Two intercepts were post-assassination fabrications, created ex post facto as part of a CIA cover-up.


DEA Chief Robert Bonner said CIA Smuggled Drugs

L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."—Senator John Kerry (1996)

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. -1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, CIA Headquarters
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The Importance of the Managed Oswald Stories

Most critics have given only passing attention to the role of the Oswald Mexico stories in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination. The Phase-Two accounts of his visit to the Embassies (to obtain a visa), because of their abundant corroboration, are almost universally accepted, even by severe critics of the Warren Commission narrative.[140] It is not my intention at this point to challenge the Phase-Two version, except to urge caution in accepting it. As we shall see in Chapter Ten, the CIA and FBI have also managed the visa story told by Silvia Durán on November 23, editing and re-editing this story on at least four different occasions.

I do wish to argue that these managed stories, fleeting and insubstantial though they are, were of central importance in determining the outcome of the Kennedy assassination investigation. In succeeding years, furthermore, the discredited Phase-One stories have been revived to manipulate public opinion, even after the CIA and FBI had agreed on a Phase-Two interpretation of Oswald's movements in Mexico City.

Two of the key figures to keep the Phase-One stories alive in the early stages were CIA Counterintelligence Chief James Angleton, and his subordinate Raymond Rocca, C/CI/RAG (Research and Analysis Group). In late January 1964 Rocca sent a memo to the Warren Commission with a section on Kostikov, with a last sentence containing a new reason to suspect a suspicious Kostikov-Oswald connection:

Kostikov is believed to work for Department Thirteen of the First Chief Directorate of the KGB. It is the department responsible for executive action, including sabotage and assassination. These functions of the KGB are known within the Service itself as “Wet Affairs” (mokryye dela). The Thirteenth Department headquarters, according to very reliable information, conducts interviews or, as appropriate, file reviews on every foreign military defector to the USSR to study and to determine the possibility of using the defector in his country of origin. [141]

This last sentence so concerned another Counterintelligence officer in Soviet Russia Division that he dictated a memo to file concerning it.

I called Tom Hall [CI/RAG] to inquire about the source of the statement included in the last sentence of para 17 of Rocca’s memo. Rocca called me sometime later and said that the source was AELADLE [Anatoliy Golitsyn, Angleton’s preferred Soviet defector]. It seems that he made the statement to C/CI [Angleton], who, himself, drafted and inserted the sentence in question.[142]

This is one of the rare occasions when Angleton himself is visible in the JFK record. Note that he calls his preferred KGB defector “very reliable;” this was at a time when another KGB defector with a Phase-Two message, Yuri Nosenko, had been isolated by Angleton from the Warren Commission and confined in a specially-constructed room.[143]

The opposing views of an Oswald-KGB relationship had by now produced, among other things, a battle between two KGB defectors, each with their supporters. This conflict ultimately contributed to a showdown in 1974, when CIA Director Colby fired Angleton and reconstructed the Counterintelligence staff. In the wake of Angleton’s departure the CIA conducted an internal review of its JFK assassination records, releasing some of them to the Church Committee and later the House Committee on Asassinations. At the same time watered-down Angletonian innuendos about Oswald and Kostikov were leaked to the public, notably in the 1978 book Legend, by Edward J. Epstein.[144]

To this day both Phase-One and Phase-Two versions are trotted out from time to time. These control public perceptions of the Kennedy assassination and seize the debate from genuine critics who have less access to the media. In November 1976, for example, David Phillips of the CIA Station gave a new conspiratorial Phase-One spin to the intercepts. At a time when student activists were pressuring Congress to reopen an inquiry into the Kennedy assassination, former Warren Commission member David Belin countered with a proposal for an inquiry to see if there was "there is any credible evidence of a foreign conspiracy."[145] Backing this demand was a lengthy secret memorandum written in 1975 by Angleton’s deputy, Ray Rocca, the CIA liaison to the Rockefeller Commission.

Phillips lent strength to this Phase-One alternative by telling the Washington Post, falsely, that he had authored the Mexico City cable on the first intercept; and that Oswald had told the Soviets, "I have information you would be interested in, and I know you can pay my way to Russia."[146] But there was nothing about this alleged offer in Phillips' memoir published two years later: a Phase-Two account that admitted someone else had written the cable.[147]

Privileged authors, those who (unlike the rest of us) are able to interview CIA officers and quote from unreleased classified documents, continue to dominate the U.S. media with their dance between Phase-One and Phase-Two accounts of Oswald. Gus Russo, for example, writes of the "tantalizing leads about a possible Cuban conspiracy with Lee Harvey Oswald."[148] He claims, very misleadingly, that "The CIA was unsuccessful...in preventing the arrest" of Silvia Durán, which (although opposed by the CIA in Washington) had in fact been ordered by CIA Station Chief Scott. Referring to the questions prepared by Scott about possible Cuban or Soviet involvement, he calls them the "most critical questions surrounding the assassination." Russo states, against the available evidence, that "Duran's Mexican interrogators chose not to ask" them.[149] To assert this, he has to overlook the contrary testimony of Durán herself, partially corroborated by a CIA informant (LIRING-3), whom Russo cites elsewhere as "a CIA contact viewed as very reliable by the agency."[150]

The opposite Phase-Two stance in this propaganda duet is assumed by Gerald Posner. Posner dismissed the claims of Alvarado ("now so discredited that few repeat his story"), five years before Russo would re-open questions of why the claims of this "young Nicaraguan" were so "quickly disregarded."[151] Posner found Garro's story "highly unlikely," and unsupported.[152] Russo faulted the CIA in Mexico (i.e. Scott) for reaching "the wrong conclusion," when it reported that "[The fact] that Sylvia Duran had sexual intercourse with Lee Harvey Oswald...adds little to the case."[153] With both of these books receiving rave reviews from the New York Times, it is hard for the American public to look behind this ballet of bestsellers, and discern the actual dynamics of case management.

The Intercepts, the Cover-Up, and the Assassination Plot

With the wholesale releases of the cable traffic in the 1990s, there is more and more recognition that the CIA and FBI, in the days after the assassination, engaged in a cover-up. Richard Mahoney reports that Bobby Kennedy, on November 29, asked Hoover if Oswald had been "connected with the Cuban operation [Mongoose] with money;" and received only a guarded reply, "That's what we're trying to nail down now."[154] According to Mahoney,

It was obvious...to anyone in the know that the CIA, in particular Allen Dulles, a Warren Commission member, had covered up the CIA's violent relationship with anti-Castro Cubans and the fact that Oswald, as Senator Schweiker later said, "had the fingerprints of Intelligence all over him."[155]

Even Gus Russo, whose book is throughout a defense of CIA integrity, concedes that the CIA withheld information that "could have given the public the misperception that the Agency had a relationship with Oswald."[156] But according to Russo, Dulles' cover-up activities on the Warren Commission were intended chiefly to protect Bobby Kennedy, rather than the CIA.[157] "A full disclosure of Mexico City matters," Russo argues, "would have bared the Kennedys' plans to murder Fidel Castro....Such a disclosure would certainly have diminished JFK's mystique as an innocent martyr."[158]

Both of these two variant explanations focus on a cover-up designed to cover up anti-Castro assassination plotting in 1963: plotting in which both CIA personnel (certainly) and Bobby Kennedy (possibly) were involved. But neither Mahoney nor Russo point out the degree to which the 1963 post-Mongoose plotting involved the sources and managers of the Oswald Mexico City stories.

The Sources of the Stories and the ZR/RIFLE Assassination Project

In the pages to follow, I shall show how Staff D, the small CIA unit responsible for SIGINT (signals intelligence), and thus for electronic intercept operations, was also the unit which housed the CIA's ZR/RIFLE assassination project.[159] The Mexican DFS, which supplied the raw intercept data to the CIA in Mexico City, also overlapped in many ways with the Cubans and organized crime personnel picked for the CIA-mafia anti-Castro assassination plots.[160]

It is possible that the special circumstances in Mexico City explain why the CIA's generic assassination project, ZR/RIFLE, was housed within the Staff D's intercept operations. ("ZR" normally prefixed the cryptonym for a intercept program.) In his hunt for killers, ZR/RIFLE chief William Harvey searched for individuals with criminal connections.[161] The Mexico City intercept operation against the Soviet Embassy was by far the largest and most important CIA intercept program anywhere in the world.[162] And the DFS, the local intelligence service on which the CIA relied to man its listening posts, was probably the intelligence service with the profoundest links to the international drug traffic and to American organized crime.

For example, the brother-in-law of Luis Echeverría Alvarez, in 1963 the main liaison between Win Scott and the DFS, was Rubén Zuno Arce, who during Echeverría's term as President of Mexico emerged as a top drug trafficker, eventually jailed for the murder of a DEA agent (Los Angeles Times, 3/25/93). Such direct family links between Mexican politicians and the drug traffic were unfortunately not uncommon.

Here is the gist of the DFS-drug-organized crime relationship, as set out in Chapter X of this book:

The DFS was involved in the LIENVOY intercept project and probably manned the listening posts. The DFS may have been assisted in this LIENVOY project by Richard Cain, an expert telephone tapper and adjunct to the CIA-Giancana [ZR/RIFLE] assassination connection, when he was in Mexico City in 1962 as a consultant to a Mexican Government agency. Richard Cain at the time was also part of that Dave Yaras-Lennie Patrick-Sam Giancana element of the Chicago mob with demonstrable links to Jack Ruby in 1963, and the HSCA speculated that Cain may have been part of the 1960-61 CIA-Mafia plots against Castro. [Cain's CIA file, according to a later CIA memo, "reflects that...in 1963...he became deeply involved in the President Kennedy assassination case.][163]

Since 1995 new releases from Cain’s FBI file have revealed that the file identified Cain not with the CIA or its Bay of Pigs Cuban Front the FRD, but as “a former United States Army Military Intelligence Officer.[164]

Unmistakably Staff D, the small secretive part of CIA in which the CIA-Mafia plots were housed, controlled the LIENVOY intercept intake inside the Mexico City CIA station (Ann Goodpasture, the responsible officer, was a member of Staff D). If Richard Cain trained and possibly helped recruit the Mexican LIENVOY monitors, then the CIA-DFS LIENVOY collaboration would present a matrix for connecting the CIA's internal mishandling of Oswald information to the behavior of Ruby and other criminal elements in Dallas. It would also put the CIA-Mafia connection, through Staff D, in a position to feed to the CIA the false intercept linking a false Oswald to a suspected Soviet assassination expert (Kostikov), the intercept that became a major pretext for creating a Warren Commission to reach the less dangerous conclusion of a lone assassin.

There are contextual corroborations of this matrix. Both Ruby and the DFS had links to the Mexico-Chicago drug traffic, dating back to the 1940s. The DFS and the Mexican drug traffic became increasingly intertwined after 1963; the last two DFS Chiefs were indicted, for smuggling and for murder; and the DFS itself was nominally closed down in the midst of Mexico's 1985 drug scandals.[165]

To this we should add that Nicaraguan security forces, to whom Alvarado reported, were also deeply implicated under Somoza in the international drug traffic. Indeed military intelligence officers from Mexico to Panama in this period recurringly exhibited the same pattern: involvement with each other, with the drug traffic, and with the CIA.[166]

Involvement with drug-trafficking was associated with other criminal activities, notably the smuggling of stolen U.S. cars. We shall see in Chapter Ten that Miguel Nazar Haro, a key DFS official who was also a CIA asset, was indicted in California as part of a a $30 million car theft ring.[167]

We have seen that Alvarado himself was part of this milieu. As CIA cables reveal, his reports on Communists for Nicaraguan intelligence reached the CIA through his superiors. And the man to whom he reported, Gustavo Montiel of Nicaraguan Military Intelligence, was accused years later of being behind a "massive car theft ring" in the 1970s, which was run by another undercover informant against subversives, Norwin Meneses Canterero.[168] Norwin Meneses became the key figure in a Contra-drug connection exposed by Gary Webb; CIA cables released in connection with Webb's charges confirm that already in the Somoza era Meneses "was called the kingpin of narcotics traffickers in Nicaragua."[169] Yet Meneses was able to move in and out of the United States with impunity in the Contra period. This immunity aroused suspicions in law enforcement circles that Meneses enjoyed CIA protection, just as undoubtedly the CIA intervened to remove Nazar Haro from the list of DFS agents indicted in California for car smuggling.[170]

It is highly unlikely that Scott and the other CIA Station officers were unaware of the corruption with which they were dealing, but of which their cables mention nothing. Indeed Scott was a personal beneficiary, having accepted from his friend Miguel Nazar Haro a Cadillac for his personal use.[171]

New Revelations about Staff D, the DFS, and ZR/RIFLE

There are new revelations which strengthen the importance, in the ZR/RIFLE assassination nexus, of the Mexico City connection between Staff D and the DFS. The first is the importance of Mexico City to Staff D operations globally. As already noted, Mexico City was the site of the largest CIA intercept operations around the globe, as it afforded the CIA the opportunity to target one of the largest KGB outposts outside of the Soviet bloc.[172] Anne Goodpasture, who supervised the intercept operations in the Mexico City station, was a member of Staff D. She was also a co-author of the suspect cable naming Oswald and Kostikov, MEXI 6453, which I have characterized as evidence of a conspiracy.

As Chief of Covert Action in the Mexico City CIA Station, and later as Chief of Cuban Operations, David Phillips oversaw these intercept operations. Simultaneously he held a second operational responsibility in the Special Affairs Staff, which in 1963 was co-ordinating all covert operations (including assassinations) against Castro. Some of these anti-Castro Cuban assets were based in Mexico City, and two of these in particular have been linked to the Kennedy assassination.

The first is Isidro (or Eusebio) Borja, the Mexican –born Cuban military chief of the exile group DRE, the Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil. At the 1995 meeting in Nassau between Cuban and American students of the assassination, the Cubans reported that according to their files Borja was back in Mexico in 1962-63, as an asset of Phillips. This is quite credible, given Borja’s Mexican background, plus the DRE’s role in propaganda activities for the Bay of Pigs, for which Phillips was responsible.[173]

The Cubans, who had seen a photograph of Borja also suggested that Borja might have been the alleged Mexican observed in the photographs of Oswald leafleting in New Orleans.[174] More relevant in my view is Borja’s responsibility for the DRE’s military arms procurement program in 1963, which brought the DRE to Dallas and possible contact (according to a book by Ray and Mary La Fontaine) with both Oswald and Jack Ruby.[175] Of particular interest is the fact that arms were being supplied by a Captain of the U.S. Army at Fort Hood (Capt. George Nonte), the army base in Texas which for some reason maintained an intelligence file both on Oswald and his alias “A.J. Hidell.” [176] I shall have more to say about this DRE program, which impinged on the assassination in Chicago as well as Dallas, in Chapters XIV-XVI.###

The second of Phillips’ anti-Castro Cuban assets was Bernardo de Torres, the assassination suspect referred to by Gaeton Fonzi as “Carlos.” [177] De Torres also developed close relationships with the DFS and has been accused of smuggling drugs out of Mexico with the knowledge of Nazar Haro. [178]

Bernardo de Torres has further been established as a contact of David Sanchez Morales.[179] Morales was a CIA officer and killer who "was well known as the Agency's top assassin in Latin America." He also openly described Kennedy's conduct during the Bay of Pigs operation "as traición (betrayal)."[180] According to a friend, Morales once ended an anti-Kennedy tirade with the words, "Well, we took care of that son of a bitch, didn't we?"[181]

Since the 1950s Morales' career had closely paralleled that of his friend David Phillips: in Caracas, on the Guatemala operation, on the Bay of Pigs, and by 1963 at the JM/WAVE station. Two witnesses have stated that when Morales was stationed at JM/WAVE in Miami, and Phillips in Mexico City, "Morales would frequently travel from... Miami to Mexico City."[182] Two of Morales' friends said that Morales spoke of having taken part in the killing of Che Guevara (1967), and also of "a leader of the government in Chile" (either General Schneider in 1970 or President Allende in 1973).[183] The former assassination at least would have been while under the direction of David Phillips, who was in charge of the CIA's program to prevent Allende from assuming office.[184]

But in 1963 Morales was also meeting with the former principals of the ZR/RIFLE plots, William Harvey and John Rosselli, for purposes which are unexplained, and were possibly unauthorized.[185] Rosselli, an associate of Richard Cain from Chicago, had been the principal mob participant in the ZR/RIFLE project to assassinate Castro.[186] But by 1963 Harvey, after infuriating both Robert Kennedy and CIA Director McCone, had been taken off anti-Castro operations and reassigned as CIA Station Chief in Rome. The FBI had Rosselli under close observation in 1963; and allegedly overheard him and Harvey indulge themselves "by saying nasty things about Bobby Kennedy."[187]

Another significant revelation is the presence in William Harvey's ZR/RIFLE files of Harold Meltzer, who in the 1940s helped build up the Mafia's Mexico City drug connection.[188] According to Richard Mahoney,

In 1975, the Church Committee catalogued Harvey's ZR/RIFLE files and found the dossier of one Harold Meltzer, whom Harvey had described as "a resident of Los Angeles with a long criminal record." What the ZR/RIFLE memo did not say was that Meltzer was a longtime collaborator and sometime shooter for Rosselli. Who, if not Rosselli, would have introduced him and vouched for him to Harvey? It was yet another indication that the alliance between Harvey and Rosselli went far deeper than the one-shot joint venture to kill Castro. What sealed their relationship was a venomous hatred of the Kennedys, and their collaboration in the sensitive art of murder.[189]

And what Mahoney does not mention is that both FBN and FBI files linked the Mexican drug connection to Jack Ruby. Ruby's contacts with Mexican drugs are first reported in 1948, but seem to have been reactivated in 1963. At least one old collaborator of Meltzer in the Mexican drug traffic, Paul Roland Jones, contacted Ruby in Dallas just before the assassination.[190]

It is clear that throughout 1963, members like David Morales of the CIA’s Special Affairs Staff, designated to co-ordinate operations against Castro (including new assassination projects), maintained contact with Cuban and other enemies of the Kennedys. What has become clear only recently is that David Phillips, when he acquired his second role in the fall of 1963 as Chief of Cuban Operations in Mexico City, now answered in this capacity to the Special Affairs Staff.[191] Phillips was in effect rejoining the officers he had worked with on the Bay of Pigs in 1961, at which time he had been responsible for propaganda operations against the newly-created Fair Play for Cuba Committee.[192]

From about October 1 to October 9 Phillips made a quick trip, authorized by the Special Affairs Staff, to Washington and then Miami.[193] On October 1 the Mexico City CIA station also sent a cable directing that a diplomatic pouch, sent on October 1 to Washington, should be held in the registry until picked up by “Michael C. Choaden” (i.e. Phillips) presently TDY (temporary duty) HQS.”[194][195] The date October 1 catches our eye, inasmuch as it is the date of the alleged Oswald-Kostikov intercept. One is also struck by Phillips’ presence in the Miami JMWAVE station from October 7-9. There are reports that Rosselli, who had good standing in the JMWAVE station, met on two occasions in Miami in early October with Jack Ruby.[196]

Phillips’ trip coincides curiously with a significant change in the contents and handling of Oswald’s 201 file. Up to late September 1963, incoming documents about Oswald had been referred to the CI/OPS and SR/CI (Soviet Russia/Counterintelligence) desks.[197] But there was a new addressee for the next Oswald document, an FBI Report of September 24 from New Orleans about Oswald’s arrest in August 9 after distributing Fair Play for Cuba leaflets. This was “Austin Horn” of SAS/CI (replacing the usual SR/CI), whose name appears next to the date stamp “8 Oct 1963.” This exclusion of SR/CI, coupled with the initial exclusion of the report (entitled “Lee Harvey Oswald”) from Oswald’s 201 file, helps explain how an unwitting member of the SR/CI staff (Stefan Roll) could clear an outgoing cable that stated, falsely, that

“Latest HDQS info [on Oswald] was ODACID [State Department] report dated May 1962 [!] saying ODACID had determined Oswald is still US citizen and both he and his Soviet wife have exit permits and Dept State had given approval for their travel with their infant child to USA.[198]

Of the six officers responsible for drafting and signing this important cable, only one, Jane Roman of CI/LS (Counterintelligence/Liaison), had seen the incoming FBI report of September 24 that disproved their text. In Chapter III### we shall investigate the probability that this dishonest cable was part of a CIA/CI operation.

Who was this “Austin Horn” who was privileged to see documents on Oswald denied to those who were drafting cables about him? We shall postpone to a later chapter the possibility, as yet still uncertain, that “Austin Horn” may in fact be David Phillips.

Whether he is or not, David Phillips is the one man who seems to cover all aspects of the CIA-Oswald operation and cover-up in 1963. David Phillips even had one friend, Gordon McLendon, in common with Jack Ruby. McLendon, a sometime intelligence officer and Dallas owner of radio stations, had known Phillips since both men were in their teens. (The two men would in the the 1970s join in forming the Association of Retired Intelligence Officers.) McLendon was close to two other wealthy men in Dallas who have attracted the attention of JFK researchers, Clint Murchison and Bedford Wynne.[199]

What has not yet been explained is why McLendon, whom Ruby described as one of his six closest friends, embarked on a sudden and surprising trip with his family to Mexico City in the fall of 1963.[200]

Conclusion: Kryptocracies, Kryptonomy, and History

By looking closely at the Mexico Oswald stories, and particularly at their genesis in the corrupt drug-linked Mexican DFS, we have learnt more about the CIA role in covering up important clues about the Kennedy assassination. But we have also seen an example of how the CIA, as a kryptocracy, interfaces with the covert but highly organized international drug economy, or what we have called kryptonomy.

Such interactions between kryptocracy and kryptonomy are widespread among major powers, and by no means limited to the CIA. The interactions are mutually beneficial: what the former gains in extra-governmental powers, the latter gains in protection and even (in the Mexican case) institutional status.

With respect to the assassination, I would propose that a coherent investigation of what happened should look closely at both sides of this interface: correlating the genesis of the false Oswald intercepts in the DFS with the pre-assassination behavior of mob-linked figures with connections to the Mexican drug traffic, like Richard Cain, Harold Meltzer, and Jack Ruby. It will I think prove relevant that key figures on the kryptocracy side, notably William Harvey and James Angleton, had direct or indirect links to the Mexican kryptonomy.[201]

But we should also pause to consider what this effective interface between kryptocracy and kryptonomy means for history. With respect to the Kennedy assassination, it meant that the limited resources of the kryptocracies to suppress embarrassing events were allied to the resources of the kryptonomy -- in this case the international drug traffic -- which as is well known included assets skilled in, and already recruited for, assassination. This combination would indeed have been powerful enough to redirect the structural institutions of our society.

It also presents a crisis for our society's normal intellectual procedures. As we have seen, history is defined in dictionary terms as a narrative or record of what is known. A successful assassination plot, by contrast, represents an interruption of this record by the unrecorded, the unknown. Thus the defense of succeeding political legitimacy becomes indistinguishable from a defense of the integrity and dominance of the historical record. This defense propels people to trivialize the assassination as an accident, the work of a "lone nut."

Those of us who genuinely wish to see overt, rational forces prevail in the world must reject such a superficial and spurious defense of our institutions. The ideal embraced by our society, that it be based on truth and openness, is not a cynical cliche, but a real condition for our institutional health. The pursuit of leads hinted at in this essay may seem frustratingly difficult, esoteric, and above all slow. But to abandon this pursuit is to break faith with the American dream, indeed the dream of enlightenment itself.

[1] Peter Dale Scott, The War Conspiracy, 171.

[2] There are previous examples where the actual events of American history are at odds with the public record. Allen Dulles represented the conventional view of John Wilkes Booth when he represented Booth to the Warren Commission as a loner, ignoring both the facts of the case and what is known now of Booth's secret links to the Confederate Secret Service (Scott, Deep Politics, 295; cf. Tidwell, William A., with James O. Hall and David Winfred Gaddy, Come Retribution: the Confederate Secret Service and the Assassination of Lincoln. [Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1988]).

[3] American Heritage Dictionary, s.v. "history."

[4] James Mills, The Underground Empire: Where Crime and Governments Embrace (New York: Dell, 1986), 1139.

[5] For a candid account of how KMT China was torn between management and suppression of the opium traffic, see Alan Baumler, "Opium Control versus Opium Suppression: The Origins of the 1935 Six-Year Plan to Eliminate Opium and Drugs," in Opium Regimes: China, Britain, and Japan, 1839-1952, ed. Timothy Brook and Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2000), 270-91. Baumler notes how "The opium trade was a vital source of income and power for most of the colonial and national states of East and Southeast Asia" (270). I believe this state of affairs is less restricted, and has changed less, than his choice of terms implies.

[6] These and other examples in Sally Denton and Roger Morris, The Money and the Power: The Rise and Reign of Las Vegas and Its Hold on America, 1947-2000 (New York: Knopf, 2001), 185,290, etc.

[7] Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 207, 218-19.

[8] For an instructive example involving Citicorp, America’s largest bank, see Robert A. Hutchison, Off the Books (New York: William Morrow, 1986). This Citicorp scandal (one involving double bookkeeping and tax evasion rather than drugs) was richly documented by first the SEC staff and then a Congressional Hearing, yet it was successfully suppressed through political influence.

[9] New York Times, 11/11/99: A Senate Committee “subpoenaed Citibank for transcripts of conversations among its private bankers on March 1, 1995, the day after Mr. Salinas had been arrested for murder. He has been convicted and is in prison in Mexico. In one conversation, the head of Citibank Private Bank, Hubertus Rukavina, asked whether Mr. Salinas's money could be moved from trust accounts in London to Switzerland, which has strict secrecy laws, according to the transcript.”

[10] Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall, Cocaine Politics, 39.

[11] Chapter XII; Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 104-05.

[12] Desperados, 180.

[13] Cf. Mills, Underground Empire, 840-43, 550.

[14] MEXI 7041 24 November 1963; NARA #104-10015-10070.

[15] Mills, Underground Empire, 549-50; cf. Kruger, The Great Heroin Coup, 178-79.

[16] Cf. Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 107-08.

[17] Samuels, Dorothy J., and James A. Goodman, "How Justice Shielded the CIA," Inquiry (October 18, 1978), 10-11. Discussion in Peter Dale Scott, Drugs, Contras and the CIA: Government Policies and the Cocaine Economy. An Analysis of Media and Government Response to the Gary Webb Stories in the San Jose Mercury News (1996-2000) (Los Angeles: From the Wilderness Publications, 2000), pp. 39-40. Samuels and Goodman summarize a little-noticed Report from the House Committee on Government Operations that I (even with the help of university librarians) have so far been unable to locate in Congressional Research Service indices. I have however located a second, follow-up report: U.S. Cong., House, Committee on Government Operations, Justice Department Handling of Cases Involving Classified Data and Claims of National Security. 96th Cong., 1st Sess.; H. Rept. No. 96-280. Washington: GPO, 1979.

[18] I know of no adequate published account of this murder and cover-up. There is a veiled account of the "flap" in John Ranelagh, The Agency: the Rise and Decline of the CIA (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986), 221.

[19] Peter Dale Scott, Drugs, Contras and the CIA: Government Policies and the Cocaine Economy (Los Angeles: From the Wilderness Publications, 2000), 2, 12, 39-40.

[20] Michael Beschloss, ed., Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes, 1963-1964 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997), 22.

[21] Beschloss, 23n, citing the National Archives. To my knowledge, no other researcher has yet discovered this memo.

[22] Beschloss, 23.

[23] FBI Memo of November 22; NARA #124-10027-10395; 62-109060-lst nr 487; RB95; PS 75-1.

[24] James P. Hosty, Jr., Assignment: Oswald (New York: Arcade Publishing, 1996), 219.

[25] Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press), 1966), 275; Deep Politics II, 80-85.

[26] Hoover memo of 11/22/63 (4:01 PM) to Tolson, Belmont, Mohr, etc.; reproduced at http://www.jfklancer.com/backes/newman/documents/hoover/Hoover_RFK.JPG

[27] Jack Anderson, with Daryl Gibson, Peace, War, and Politics: An Eyewitness Account (New York: Tom Doherty Associates, 1999), 115-16.

[28] MEXI 7072 262113Z; NARA #104-10015-10368; PS#71-54.

[29] Lopez Report, 174-75. On November 22 a State Department cable from Mexico City, announcing that Mexico had closed its U.S. border in response to the assassination, was distributed inside the Mexico City CIA Station to only three people. The two first were the Station's Chief, Winston Scott, and Deputy Chief, Alan White. The third was David Phillips, in charge of covert action against the Cubans (NARA #104-10015-10309: State Cable 269 of 22 November 1963).


DEA Chief Robert Bonner said CIA Smuggled Drugs

L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."—Senator John Kerry (1996)

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. -1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, CIA Headquarters
Quote 0 0

[30] FBI Memo from Branigan to W.C. Sullivan (Turner); (NARA #124-10027-10395; 62-109060-lst nr 487; RB95; PS 75-1). Cf. Mexico FBI memo 105-3702-12, 11/23/63: "On 10/1/63, a person calling from the Cuban Embassy, Mexico City, to the Soviet Embassy, and speaking very bad Russian, identified himself as LEE OSWALD."

[31] As recently re-released, the Lopez Report talks of reporting on Silvia Durán "from one of the Station's penetration agents, LI[redaction, "crypt"], at the Cuban embassy" (Lopez Report, 199; cf. 154). For other evidence, see Chapter VIII, 101.

[32] Scelso memo of 11 December 1963 to Deputy Director (Plans), "Plans for the GPFLOOR Investigation;" NARA #104-10018-10103; PS #62-167. Cf. Newman, 406.

[33] Anderson, 116.

[34] [LBJ:] "We've got to take this out of the arena where they're testifying that Khrushchev and Castro did this and did that and kicking us into a war that can kill forty million Americans in an hour" (Beschloss, 67).

[35] Manchester, 717; Washington Post, 11/14/93.

[36] MEXI 7203 (NARA #104-10016-10020).

[37] TX-1915 of 23 Nov 1963 (NARA #104-10015-10055, PS#64-28: "Silvia Duran, the girl who put Oswald in touch with the Soviet Embassy"); MEXI 7029 232048Z (NARA #104-10015-10091, PS#78-94); MEXI 7072 262113Z (NARA #104-10015-10368, PS#71-54).

[38] MEXI 7046 of 23 November; NARA #104-10015-10274; PS#70-172.

[39] JKB[enedum] letter of 26 Nov with report in Spanish of Durán interview; under covering letter 27 November; NARA #104-10015-10189, -10190; PS#63-97. Cf. MEXI 7105 27 Nov (10-page Durán statement coming to Washington by hand 28 Nov); NARA #104-10015-10416 PS#74-34.

[40] Evidence for a Counterintelligence back channel is presented in Chapter II###. In her 1995 ARRB deposition, Ann Goodpasture confirmed (p. 39) that “I think there was what they called back channel, but I don't know the details of it.

[41] DIR 84920 of 24 November; NARA #104-10015-10064; PS 73-30.

[42] CSCI-3/778,826 NARA #104-10004-10257, 102-514)

[43] Ibid.

[44] See Chapter X. ###

[45] Edited transcript of November 26 phone call between Cuban President Oswaldo Dorticos and Cuban Ambassador Joaquin Hernandez Armas; NARA #104-10015-10007 PS#73-3: "They asked her... did she have personal relations with him -- including intimate relations -- and she denied them all....She has black and blue marks on her arms, which she said she got during the interrogation process. They were squeezing her arms" (p. 12). On December 10 a CIA HQ report "translated" Hernandez as follows: "he says that Mexican police bruised Silvia DURAN's arms a little shaking her to impress her with the importance of his questions" (XAAZ-17958 10 Dec 63; Summary of Oswald case prepared for briefing purposes; NARA #104-10018-10040 PS#62-142).

[46] Personal interview with Larry Keenan.

[47] 26 WH 411. Diaz Verson's CIA cryptonym was AMPALM-26 (MEXI 7776 of 14 Jan 1964, NARA #104-10404-10089, p. 2).

[48] 3 AH 87.

[49] Dispatch HMMA-32243 of 13 June 1967, covering TX-1937 of 26 May 1967; Chapter IV, 38.

[50] Dispatch HMMA-32243 of 13 June 1967, covering TX-1937 of 26 May 1967; Chapter IV, 38.

[51] 3 AH 86; Chapter IV, p. 38

[52] 3 AH 91; cf. 3 AH 86. Note that the DFS exempted the Soviets from their hypothetical conspiracy, as did Ambassador Mann (Summers, 441).

[53] MEXI 7054 241837Z; NARA #104-10015-10082 PS#64-77.

[54] See Chapter X.

[55] 3 AH 292-93.

[56] Lopez Report, p. 200. "The Committee cannot definitely resolve whether Silvia Duran was a Mexican or American intelligence agent or source" (p. 201).

[57] A.C. Plambeck memo of 25 November re Alvarado; NARA #104-10015-10301 PS#70-96. Also MEXI 7069 262037Z; NARA #104-10015-10366 PS#71-43 (Canadian hippie).

[58] Hoover –LBJ phone call, 11/29/63; Beschloss, 53. I have been unable to find any cable which documents the change in Alvarado’s testimony, which may have been conveyed to Washington by telephone.

[59] MEXI 7168 of 30 Nov 1963; NARA #104-10025-10177; PS#62-110.

[60] AR 244; Scott, Deep Politics, 38.

[61] MEXI 7289 070145Z; NARA #104-10017-10030 PS#72-71. A confused Alvarado accepted the negative results of the polygraph, stating "that he had utmost confidence" in it.

[62] Washington Post, November 23, 1993; cf. Beschloss, 53. In a memorandum of the same day Hoover noted that it was Johnson, not Hoover, who initiated the call (3 AH 476). The call logs of the LBJ Library (available on its website) indicate that the call was from Hoover to Johnson. The September 28 date coincided exactly with the date the Mexico City CIA Station believed Oswald to have been in the Cuban Embassy. I shall argue later that in fact he was not in the Embassy on that Saturday (when the Embassy was closed), even though someone using his name was creating that impression.

[63] DIR 85714 291631Z; NARA #104-10015-10224.

[64] DIR 85744 291915Z; NARA #104-10015-10228.

[65] Warren Commission Document 347, p. 12.

[66] MEXI 7067 of 26 November; NARA #104-10015-10297; PS #70-102.

[67] Lopez Report, 127-28.

[68] MEXI 7069 of 26 November; NARA #104-10015-10366; PS #71-43, RB95. The identity of "Barker" with Phillips is revealed by comparing the role of "Barker" in the CIA cable reporting the Eldon Hensen story (MEXI 5448 of 20 July 1963; NARA #104-10015-10044; PS #66-14) with Phillips' first-person narration of it (The Night Watch, 126-28). Hensen was another American who in July 1963 attempted to contact the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City, but was foiled by Phillips (Newman 363-63; Phillips, 126-28). The CIA later reported that for some unexplained reason the cable about Hensen was included in Oswald's pre-assassination 201 file (Newman, 506). If this is true it would indicate that Phillips had a hitherto unexplained relationship to the Oswald story before the assassination.

[69] MEXI 7104 of 27 November; NARA #104-10015-10191; PS #63-114.

[70] CIA Cable MANA (Managua) 4609 of 26 November; NARA #104-10015-10362 RB96A.

[71] 3 AH 595 (FBI memo of December 12, 1963); Mexico City serial MC 105-3702-22 (Legat Cable to HQ of November 26, 1963).

[72] Richard Millett, Guardians of the Dynasty (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1977), 251; Webb, Dark Alliance, 52; Scott, Drugs, Contras, and the CIA, 15.

[73] Attachment to CIA Memo of 12 December 1963 from DDP to FBI, "Mexican Interrogation of Gilberto Alvarado;" NARA #104-10018-10043; PS 74-16.

[74] Webb, 55-56 (Montiel); Scott, Drugs, Contras, and the CIA, 15 ("kingpin").

[75] MEXI 7072 of 26 November, p. 4; #104-10015-10350 PS#78-13.

[76] For example a Mexican credit investigator, Pedro Gutierrez, wrote on December 2 to President Johnson that he had seen a Cuban in the Embassy count out dollars to an American, whom he later recognized as Lee Harvey Oswald (Coleman-Slawson Memorandum, 11 AH 161; cf. 24 WH 633, Summers, 444, Posner 194.) Another example is the swiftly retracted claim that Luisa Calderon of the Cuban Embassy, whom Alvarado allegedly saw kiss Oswald, had prior knowledge of the Kennedy assassination. (AR 454, 4 AH 181, 11 AH 494).

[77] FBI Memo of 27 November from DeLoach to Mohr, FBI File 62-109060-1571.

[78] The "CIA man in Dallas" presumably refers to J. Walton Moore, an acquaintance if not associate of Oswald's friend and patron George de Mohrenschildt. Both de Mohrenschildt and his wife Jeanne have claimed that Moore had pre-assassination knowledge of Oswald (Summers, Conspiracy, 226-28).

[79] DIR 85654 281520Z; NARA #104-100154-10438; PS#73-128. "Clark" is presumably the FBI Legal Attache Clark Anderson, who joined with Scott and Mann in calling for the rearrest and "cracking" of Silvia Durán to corroborate the Alvarado story. In discrediting the rumor of the $5000 deposit, the CIA cable said that "ODENVY [FBI] here has just affirmed they never heard this story," a claim hard to reconcile with the FBI memo just quoted.

[80] 3 AH 300.

[81] 3 AH 300, Memo of conversation with Elena Garro de Paz; cf. 3 AH 297; Lopez Report, 217. The Garro story , like those of Durán and Alvarado, was a malleable and changing one. I have conflated the most prominent Phase-One details.

[82] Scott, Deep Politics, 123; citing WR 307.

[83] The CIA originally reported that Silvia was arrested at home with husband and members of family who were having a party (MEXI 7054 of 24 Nov 1963; NARA #104-10015-10082; PS#64-55). A CIA version of Silvia's November 23 interview (described in Chapter Ten as "DFS-2") repeated that these others had all been picked up with Silvia because they were dining with her at Rubén Durán's home at the time of her arrest. The FBI version of the same interview ("DFS-4") indicated otherwise, that Silvia, Horacio, and Lidia were at Silvia's home, while Rubén and his wife were dining at their own home. See JKB Memo and attachment of 26 November, 1963, p. 7; NARA #104-10015-10190 (DFS-2); 25 WH 637 (DFS-4). In her 1978 HSCA interview Silvia testified that Rubén had already been arrested before she went to his house from her own and was arrested in turn (3 AH 81).

[84] Silvia's account of such interrogation (3 AH 86, 91) was earlier corroborated, as we have seen, by a State Department officer's claim to have heard from CIA Station Deputy Chief Alan White that the DFS interrogated Silvia on details of the Garro story (3 AH 292-93).

[85] MEXI 7054 of 24 Nov 1963; NARA #104-10015-10082; PS#64-55.

[86] There is no proof that Garro shared her story in 1963. However in October 1964, when a version of the Garro story was first entered into the CIA Oswald file which we possess, Winston Scott noted that the "Garros [Elena and her daughter] have been talking about this for a long time" (Mexico City CIA TX-1928 n.d. (5 Oct 64); NARA #104-10016-10031; PS#72-109).

[87] See for example AR 249-50; Summers, Conspiracy, 373.

[88] MEXI 6453 of 9 Oct 090043Z; NARA #104-10015-10047; PS#62-59; 4 AH 212. The CIA Station later supplied an allegedly verbatim transcript of this conversation. In this transcript the person identifying himself as Oswald did not mention Kostikov as the cable suggested; he merely replied affirmatively when Obyedkov suggested that Kostikov was the Consul who had been spoken to on Saturday (Lopez Report 79; PS #19-52). Was this transcript in fact a later Phase-Two rewrite to neutralize the Phase-One cable? This possibility seems less far-fetched when we see how the only other alleged Oswald allusion to Kostikov, the Phase-One "Kostin" letter of November 9, was similarly neutralized by the later presentation of a dubious alleged "draft," also Phase-Two.

[89] Phone call from Hoover to LBJ, 10:01 AM, 11/23/63 (Beschloss 23; Newman 520).

[90] Rex Bradford, "The Fourteen-Minute Gap," Kennedy Assassination Chronicles, Spring 2000, 28-32.

[91] Letterhead Memo from Hoover to James J. Rowley, Secret Service, 11/23/63; AR 249-50; cf. FBI #62-109060-1133, in Holmes papers at NARA #104-10419-10022. (The drafter is SA Fletcher D. Thompson of Criminal Division, who on the next day flew to Dallas with SA Richard Rogge, to prepare memoranda on deaths of Kennedy and Oswald: 3 AH 465, 478, 479). Discussion below, pp. 11, 25; Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 41-45.

[92] Address to November 1999 JFKLancer Conference, available on line at http://www.jfklancer.com/backes/newman.

[93] MEXI 7023 231659Z (11:59 AM EST November 23), NARA#104-10015-10124.

[94] “SUMMARY of Relevant Information on Lee Harvey OSWALD at 0700 on 24 November 1963,” NARA #104-10015-10359, PS 62-137. Reprinted in Hosty, Assignment Oswald, p. 289. Cf. CIA Memo of 11/23/63 to FBI, CSCI-3/778,826, NARA # 104-10004-10257, PS 64-5: “Voice comparisons indicated that the `North American’ who participated in several of these conversations is probably the person who identified himself as Lee OSWALD on 1 October 1963.”

[95] Ann Goodpasture comment on newspaper column by Robert S. Allen and Paul Scott (10/21/64) preserved in Mexico City Oswald file; NARA #104-10125-10001. See December 1995 ARRB Interview of Anne Goodpasture, p. 140: Q. “So did Mr. Feinglass then make that identification prior to the assassination?” A. Prior to the assassination and prior to Sylvia Duran's arrest. Q. Yes is the answer? A. Yeah.”

[96] FBI Cable of 11/23 from Eldon Rudd to SAC, Dallas; FBI file MX 105-3702-12. Eldon Rudd was of course the FBI agent who reportedly had flown up the tapes the day before. In 1995 Ann Goodpasture told the ARRB that she thought Rudd “may have carried the tape dub [copy].” She suggested that the ARRB interview Rudd: “I think he refused to talk to the House Committee [on Assassinations] because he was a Congressman at that time” (ARRB Interview of Ann Goodpasture, 12/95, p. 146).

[97] MEXI 7054 2401837Z (1:37 PM EST November 24); NARA #104-10015-10082; PS 64-77. The day before, at 2:11 PM EST, the station had reported it was “probable that Oswald conversation LIENVOY tapes erased” (MEXI 7024 23911Z, NARA #104-10015-10125).

[98] E.g. CIA Memo to FBI of 23 November 1963, CSCI 3-778/826, NARA #104-10004-10257: "Voice comparisons indicated that the `North American' who participated in several of these conversations is probably the person who identified himself as Lee OSWALD on 1 October 1963."

[99] ARRB Counsel Jeremy Gunn in ARRB Deposition of Anne Lorene Goodpasture, December 1995, p. 147: "Q. I have spoken with two Warren Commission staff members who went to Mexico City and who both told me that they heard the tape[,] after the assassination obviously.”

[100] Church Committee Staff Memo of 3/5/76; NARA #157-10014-10168.

[101] U.S. Cong., Senate, Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations, Final Report, Book V, The Investigation of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy: Performance of the Intelligence Agencies; 94th Cong., 2nd Sess., Report No. 94-555.

[102] Ibid., p. 102. The Report is dated April 23, 1976; it is possible that the 3/5/76 memo was prepared too late for inclusion.

[103] AR 250.

[104] Chapter I, 11.

[105] Warren Commission Exhibit 15, 16 WH 33.

[106] WR 310; WCE 3126.

[107] The importance of the alleged Kostikov-Kostin material was underlined in his autobiography by former FBI Director Clarence Kelley (Kelley, p. 293): "William C. Sullivan, assistant director in charge of security in Washington, was probably the highest FBI official, at that point, to review the Oswald file. What he discovered there must have astounded him. He read the data on the meeting between Oswald and Kostikov (Sullivan would have known exactly who Kostikov was), surmised the Cuban connection, viewed the CIA surveillance data on the Soviet embassy in Mexico City, studied FBI wiretaps involving Oswald and Kostikov, then read the November 9 follow-up letter from Oswald to the Soviet embassy in Washington. This information, it would surely have struck him, had such dire international implications that the White House must be informed immediately."

[108] WR 309-11; WCE 103, 16 WH 443; cf. 3 WH 14, 97; James Hosty, Assignment Oswald, 40-41, 85-86. [Priscilla McMillan, 401 ZZ]. Hosty claims that he received the draft on November 23, but this is uncorroborated. The draft does not form part of the inventory of items retrieved on that day from Ruth Paine's residence and typed three days later in the FBI office (24 WH 332-37). Hosty gives an elaborate explanation of why this draft was not filed by him in the regular way, but segregated in an envelope (Hosty, 85-86; Curt Gentry, J. Edgar Hoover, 546). An alternative explanation would be that knowledge of Oswald's Mexico trip, still classified because of its origin from a CIA intercept program, had not yet been shared with the Dallas police.

[109] Ambassador Dobrynin in AP story, "Soviets Suspected Oswald Letter a Fake"; Boston Globe, 8/6/99, A8. This Soviet reaction was also headlined in Canadian newspapers, but omitted from George Lardner's account of the recently released "Yeltsin documents" in the Washington Post, 8/6/99. The full text is in Yeltsin Documents, p. 91; LS no. 0692061-26 Washington to Moscow cable of 27 November 1963: “This letter was clearly a provocation: it gives the impression we had close ties with Oswald and were using him for some purposes of our own. It was totally unlike any other letters the embassy had previously received from Oswald. Nor had he ever visited our embassy himself. The suspicion that the letter is a forgery is heightened by the fact that it was typed, whereas the other letters the embassy had received from Oswald before were typewritten.” Cf. p. 91: “The embassy had suspicions about this letter the moment it arrived: either it was a forgery or was sent as a deliberate provocation. The embassy left Oswald's letter unanswered.”

[110] Warren Commission, CE 7-14 (16 WH 10-32); CE 986 (18 WH 501-35).

[111] Yeltsin Documents, LS no. 0692061-8, Washington Embassy Cable 1967-1968 to Moscow, 23 November 1963. The cable notes that Marina’s application had been rejected by a Foreign Ministry letter of October 7,1963. The cable does not explicitly say that this information had been forwarded (as one would expect) to Marina, and there is no trace of such notification in the Warren Commission release of the Consulate-Oswald correspondence (WCE 986, 18 WH 501-35). But, whether the Oswalds had received news of the rejection or not, it is hard to believe that a genuine Oswald letter to the Consulate would pay such marginal attention to the issue.

[112] The Phase-Two draft is thus exactly analogous to the Phase-Two Kostikov intercept transcript indicating that Oswald had not in fact spoken of Kostikov (as the earlier Phase-One Kostikov intercept cable had suggested). Both Phase-Two documents purported to be earlier; but both in fact entered the record later. Even the draft had alleged corroboration, in the form of a handwritten draft which Ruth Paine allegedly made and gave to FBI Agent Bardwell D. Odum after the assassination. It too was withheld from the regular inventory of Oswald evidence (Hosty, 86). Ruth Paine testified about making this copy (3 WH 15, 52), but for unexplained reasons it (unlike the draft) was not introduced as a Warren Commission Exhibit (cf. 3 WH 52).

[113] Jerry Rose, The Fourth Decade, November 1999, 5. I had not seen this article until after writing my own comments.

[114] Ibid. Rose also pointed to real problems with the date of the postmark on the typed letter, and the unlikelihood that Oswald, having concealed the typed letter from Ruth Paine, would then leave his "draft" on her desk for her to pick up afterwards (cf. 3 WH 13-15).

[115] Both the Walker note and the Mexican bus ticket were retrieved from the pages of books in Ruth Paine's house, both just when they were needed to fill gaps in the reconstructed Phase-Two account of Oswald's life. See Marrs, Crossfire, 261 (Walker note); Scott, "Some Familiar Faces Reappear in Monicagate." Pacific New Service, January 26, 1998 (ticket). (Other suspect evidence would include the silver Mexican coin, Spanish-English dictionary, silver bracelet for Marina, and postcards from Mexico City, all of which Ruth Paine confirmed seeing together in Marina's drawer; 3 WH 13).

[116] We see evidence of this in the cover-up cable that the CIA sent to Mexico City shortly after noon on November 23. The cable reported the FBI as saying "that photos of man entering Soviet Embassy which MEXI sent to Dallas were not of Lee Oswald;" it said nothing about the voice on the tape which the FBI had also shown not to be Oswald's (DIR 84888 231729Z; NARA #104-10015-10115 PS#64-121). The cable had an unusual releasing officer: William P. Hood, WH/COPS. Hood was the Chief of Operations for Western Hemisphere Division. More importantly, Hood was a senior Counterintelligence Officer who had been involved for some time on a highly sensitive case, a possible Soviet mole who had leaked information about the CIA's secret U-2 program. Before the assassination, William Hood had signed as Authenticating Officer for the misleading HQ cable in response to news of the Kostikov intercept (DIR 74830 of 10 October 1963; NARA #104-10015-10048; PS #62/65). I have argued elsewhere that Oswald and his files were manipulated as part of the search for this mole. See Chapter XI, "Oswald and the Hunt for Popov's Mole."

[117] Ruth Paine gave false or misleading testimony on a number of matters, but usually to corroborate a Phase-Two interpretation of events.

[118] MEXI 7023 231659Z; NARA #104-10015-10124 PS 73-43.

[119] 26 WH 411.

[120] Oleg M. Nechiporenko, trans. Todd B. Bludeau, Passport to Assassination, (New York: Birch Lane/Carol, 1993), 75-81; see discussion in Deep Politics II, 12-15.

[121] "Interview with a KGB Colonel: Peter Dale Scott interviews Col. Oleg Nechiporenko in Dallas" (videotape). Prevailing Winds Research, #884, $19.95 (http://prevailingwinds.org/videomain.html).

[122] According to a later CIA note, the monitors of the call said that the "caller (who called himself Oswald) had difficulty making himself understood both (as I recall) in English and in Russian" (Handwritten note on Scott D. Breckinridge Memo for the Record of 12 December 1976; NARA #104-10095-10001; PS 62-197).

[123] Chapter II, 14-16; Chapter X, 125.

[124] TX-1915 of 23 Nov 1963; NARA #104-10015-10055 PS#64-33. Cf. MEXI 7029 232048Z; NARA #104-10015-10091 PS#78-94, in which Scott reports that he has suggested to the Mexicans that they arrest Durán, citing an earlier cable (MEXI 7025) with the full texts of the two Phase-One intercepts.

[125] Scott's error in describing Rubén Durán as Silvia's brother, rather than brother-in-law, is consistent with, and may have derived from, Garro's recurring habit of describing the Duráns (as opposed to Rubén Durán's wife) as her "cousins" (3 AH 295, 297, 305). Scott also supplied a wrong address for Silvia, who told the DFS she lived at 143, Calles de Constituyentes. This may explain why the DFS went first to Herodoto #14, and only arrested Silvia when she arrived there.

[126] TX-1907 of 27 Nov 1963; NARA #104-10015-10428, PS#78-37.


DEA Chief Robert Bonner said CIA Smuggled Drugs

L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."—Senator John Kerry (1996)

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. -1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, CIA Headquarters
Quote 0 0

[127] Memo of 24 or 25 November 1963, "Subject: Lee Harvey OSWALD, also known as Lee Harry OSWALD; Alex HIDELL; Harvey Oswald LEE." Cf. Edward Jay Epstein, Legend (New York: McGraw Hill, 1978), 250; Gus Russo, Live By the Sword (Baltimore: Bancroft Press, 1998), 344. The memo is undated and unsigned, but is aware of Oswald's death on November 24. It mentions nothing about the claims made by Alvarado on November 25, which were included in a list of questions compiled by Scott for the Mexicans to ask after Durán's second arrest (MEXI 7124 282116Z; NARA #104-10016-10010 PS#72-124).

[128] MEXI 7072 262113Z; NARA #104-10015-10368.

[129] Cover sheet to memo, in Scott's handwriting with initial: "Read to President on night of 25/XI/63 -- S." The Washington Post (November 14, 1993) concludes that the memo was read to President Johnson, but this is most unlikely. The Church Committee agrees that the person informed was "a senior Mexican government official" (Schweiker-Hart Report, 28).

[130] MEXI 7033 of 23 November 232246Z; NARA #104-10015-10094 PS#66-41.

[131] MEXI 7046 of 23 November 240419Z; NARA #104-10015-10075 PS#64-48.

[132] DIR 85758 291945Z; NARA #104-10015-10229 PS#73-73.

[133] Oswald visa application; 3 AH 129; 25 WH 814.

[134] MEXI 7033 232246Z; NARA #104-10015-10094; PS #66-43.

[135] MEXI 6453 Oct 090043Z; NARA #104-10015-10047 PS#62-59.

[136] Winston Scott, Foul Foe, ms. (retrieved for the CIA after Scott's death in 1971 by James Angleton), 268-69; Newman, Oswald and the CIA, 415-16; HSCA, Lopez Report, 125. Scott's claim is supported by a CIA memo written in 1975 by CIA Counterintelligence Chief George Kalaris, successor to James Angleton:

There is also a memorandum dated 16 October 1963 from [redacted] COS Mexico City...concerning Oswald's visit to Mexico City....Subsequently there were several Mexico City cables in October 1963 also concerned with Oswald's visit to Mexico City, as well as his visits to the Soviet and Cuban Embassies.(Memo of 18 Sept 1975, FOIA #1187-436; Newman, Oswald and the CIA, 415).

[137] Lopez Report, 82-88. Cf. Newman, 369-77.

[138] Ray Rocca deposition of 7/17/78 to HSCA, pp. 82-83. Rocca’s remarks may explain why the House Assassinations Committee reported from testimony that the connection between Oswald and the Cuban consulate "had in fact been made in early October 1963" (AR 249n).

[139] FBI Memorandum of 22 November from W.A. Branigan to W.C. Sullivan; NARA #124-10027-10395; FBI 62-109060-lst nr 487; RB95; PS 75-1.

[140] Among those who accept the Phase-Two version as real are Newman (pp. 356-57), and Russell (pp. 492-94).

[141] Warren Commission Document 347 of January 31, 1964, p. 10, emphasis added.

[142] Lee H. Wigren, C/SR/CI/R[esearch], Memo to File of 4 February 1964; NARA #104-10003-10004.

[143] Summers, Conspiracy, 194-99; AR 101-02.

[144] Epstein, Legend, 16, 237: “The FBI knew through a double agent that Kostikov …was a high-level officer of the Thirteenth Department of the KGB, heavily involved in controlling saboteurs….[T]he Thirteenth Department…was involved with planning sabotage and other violent acts.”

[145] New York Times, November 23, 1975. In first moving the resolution for a House Select Committee on Assassinations, Congressman Downing, the future HSCA Chairman, supported his case by referring to the Kostin letter, and to the CIA's identification of Kostikov as a member of the KGB's "Liquid Affairs Department, whose responsibilities include assassination and sabotage" (Congressional Record, House, September 17, 1976, H10360).

[146] Washington Post, November 26, 1976; Russell, p. 494; Scott, Deep Politics II, Chapter VIII, p. 97. Further support for a Cuban conspiracy was dredged from CIA files for David Belin by Raymond Rocca, a former member of the CI Counterintelligence staff under James Angleton (e.g. NARA #157-10011-10072: Memo of 5/20/75 of David Belin on Castro and assassination plots, citing Ray Rocca).

[147] Phillips, Night Watch, 139.

[148] Russo, Live By the Sword, (Baltimore: Bancroft Press, 1998), 459.

[149] Russo, 344.

[150] Russo, 219; cf. Durán, 3 AH 86, 91; LIRING-3, Chapter IV, p. 38. The New York Times Book Review found Russo's book "compelling, exhaustively researched and evenhanded."

[151] Posner, 194; Russo, 345.

[152] Posner, 191n.

[153] Russo, 219. (Russo does not quote the words, "The fact.")

[154] Richard D. Mahoney, Sons and Brothers, 303.

[155] Mahoney, 336; citing Schweiker in Fonzi, The Last Investigation, 31.

[156] Russo, 218.

[157] Russo, 363.

[158] Russo, 218.

[159] Chapter II ###

[160] Chapter X.###

[161] Church Committee, Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders; Interim Report, Senate, 94th Cong., 1st Sess., Report No 94-465, 182.

[162] Scelso Deposition to HSCA, 5/16/78, NARA #180-10131-10330, 1-140: "the performance of the Mexico City support apparatus, as we call surveillance, photo-surveillance, phone taps and so forth, was unequalled in the world. There is nothing like it anyplace else in the world."

[163] Chapter X, 117, 132.###

[164] FBI HQ 105-93264-3, NARA #124-90059-10087 SAC Chicago to Director, 2-17-61: “CIA on 2-10-61 advised that subject is not connected with CIA or FRD;” FBI HQ 105-93264-3, NARA #124-90059-10111: SAC Chicago LHM of 11/02/60, 3 (“Army Military Intelligence officer”).

[165] Chapter X, p. 117.###

[166] Cocaine Politics, 65 and passim.

[167] Chapter X, 135###; Washington Post, 3/28/82 ($30 million).

[168] Gary Webb, Dark Alliance, 54-56. Cf. CIA Memo to Papich of 12/12/63; NARA #104-10018-10043 PS#74-16 (Alvarado-Montiel).

[169] Hitz Report, I, para 100; Scott, Drugs, Contras, and the CIA, 19.

[170] Webb, Dark Alliance, 200-05 and passim (Meneses-CIA); Scott and Marshall, Cocaine Politics, 36 (Nazar Haro protected).

[171] Scott, Deep Politics, 105.

[172] David Atlee Phillips, Nightwatch, 113-14.

[173] 10 AH 81 (DRE); Phillips, The Night Watch, 88.

[174] December 1995 Nassau Conference, Proceedings; http://cuban-exile.com/doc_026-050/doc0027-3.htm, http://cuban-exile.com/doc_026-050/doc0027-4.htm. Photo is Warren Commission Bringuier Exhibit No. 1, 19 WH 173. For more on Oswald and the DRE, see Chapter IX###.

[175] Ray and Mary La Fontaine, Oswald Talked: The New Evidence in the JFK Assassination (Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 1996), 288-99, etc.

[176] Ray and Mary La Fontaine, Oswald Talked, 277, 283-88, etc.

[177] Fonzi, The Last Investigation, 232-239, etc.

[178] Scott and Marshall, Cocaine Politics, 35; Fonzi, 232-239.

[179] Noel Twyman, Bloody Treason, 700-02 (Bernardo de Torres-Morales).

[180] Richard D. Mahoney, Sons & Brothers: The Days of Jack and Bobby Kennedy (New York: Arcade Publishing, 1999), 135.

[181] Fonzi, 390.

[182] Twyman, Bloody Treason, 451.

[183] Twyman, 454-57.

[184] Ranelagh, The Agency, 515-20. Phillips confirms the assignment in his autobiography (The Night Watch, 220-21); he also describes describes "El Indio" (Morales) as someone whom he met on the Guatemalan operation, "but was to work with in other operations over the years" (p. 49).

[185] Twyman, Bloody Treason, 438-40 (Harvey-Morales-Rosselli).

[186] The CIA Inspector-General's Report on the subject said that "after Harvey took over the Castro [assassination] operation, he ran it as one aspect of ZR/RIFLE (IG Report, 40-41; Church Committee Interim Report, 182). Harvey thus took over the CIA contact with Rosselli "as part of Project ZR/RIFLE" (Interim Report, 188).

[187] Warren Hinckle and William Turner, Deadly Secrets, 213.

[188] Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 141-45.

[189] Mahoney, 269.

[190] Scott, Deep Politics, 141-43. Among the anonymous reports received by the Dallas Police Department after the assassination was one linking Ruby to an international ring smuggling cars and narcotics. (I am grateful to Michael Parks for this information.)

[191] ARRB Deposition of Anne Lorene Goodpasture, December 1995, p.67: “we were all advised that he was head of the [Cuban] task force.” Task Force W, which directed Operation Mongoose against Castro in 1962, was renamed the Special Affairs Staff in early 1963.

[192] Newman, Oswald and the CIA, 236-43.

[193] DIR 73214 of 4 Oct 63: “Mr David Phillips, newly appointed Chief PBRUMEN [Cuba] Ops in MEXI will arrive 7 October EAL FL 655 for two days consultations WAVE” (NARA #104-10046-10003). WAVE was the SAS field station in Miami.

[194] Almost certainly there could have been nothing relevant to the October 1 intercept in a pouch the same day in Wasington. However there could have been materials pertinent to the alleged but missing intercepts of Oswald in the Cuban Embassy. Cf. supra at footnote ###, also Chapter IX###.

[195] MEXI 6344 011831Z, PS 61-1. The full text of the cable is as follows: “Bulk materials under TN 251905, Pouch number 4083, pouched one October to be held in registry until picked up by Michael C. Choaden presently TDY HQS.”

[196] Scott, Deep Politics, 117-18.

[197] NARA #104-10015-10045, cover sheet to FBI Hosty Report of 9/10/63; in Newman, 501. William Potocki of CI/OPS initialed this cover sheet on September 25.

[198] DIR 74830 of 10 Oct 1963, NARA # 104-10015-10048, p. 2. The CIA tried to conceal this trickery from the Warren Commission by giving the September 24 FBI memo a forged FBI transmittal slip, dated “November 8,” and burying the memo in the November section of the 201 file (Warren Commission Document 692). But the CIA cover sheet (not seen by the Warren Commission) shows clearly that the FBI memo was received in the CIA on October 3, and seen by Jane Roman on October 4. The forged FBI transmittal slip was re-released by the CIA in May 1992, and was published in the Sckolnick edition of this release (p. 112). It has disappeared from the CIA’s 1993 release of the same 201 file, but can be seen in Newman’s book on page 503. The nature of the forgery is this: the CIA took a genuine FBI transmittal slip dated “Nov 8 1963” and added to it the CIA registry number (“DBA-52355”) of the 9/24/63 FBI. The cover sheet to the same document (NARA #104-10015-10046; Newman , 502) has a date stamp showing that it was received by CIA on October 3.

[199] Scott, Deep Politics, 206-18, 226-27, 288-90, etc. Gerald Patrick Hemming, an ex-Marine Soldier of fortune involved with anti-Castro Cubans, has hinted that both Murchison and McLendon were present at a July 1963 meeting in the Dallas Petroleum Club, at which Hemming declined an alleged proposal to assassinate President Kennedy (Twyman, 699, 745).

[200] 20 WH 39 (Ruby). The information about the McLendon family trip I owe to Mary Ferrell, a close friend of some of McLendon’s children.

[201] For William Harvey, see the Rosselli-Meltzer connection noted above. Angleton spoke at some length about Harvey-Rosselli contacts in his depositions by the HSCA (p. 87). But John "Scelso," Chief of the CIA's Western Hemisphere/Mexico Branch, also testified to the HSCA about Angleton's "ties to organized crime," and specifically about protection he supplied against RFK's investigation of the skim from Las Vegas casinos (organized principally by Meltzer's patron Meyer Lansky). See HSCA, Subcommittee Executive Session, May 16, 1978, Testimony of John Scelso, NARA #180-10131-10330, 167-69.


DEA Chief Robert Bonner said CIA Smuggled Drugs

L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."—Senator John Kerry (1996)

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. -1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, CIA Headquarters
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DEA Chief Robert Bonner said CIA Smuggled Drugs

L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."—Senator John Kerry (1996)

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. -1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, CIA Headquarters
Quote 0 0


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12/2/1987 - San Francisco Bay Guardian

An Uncompromising Look at the Government's Role in the Drug Trade
by Peter Shinkle and Dennis Bernstein
11/18/1987 - San Francisco Bay Guardian

Contra Resuppliers Who Did Not Testify: Part II
by Peter Shinkle and Dennis Bernstein
9/30/1987 - San Francisco Bay Guardian

Witnesses Who Were Absent: Part I
by Peter Shinkle and Dennis Bernstein
9/23/1987 - San Francisco Bay Guardian

Three Committees Track Down Smuggled Drugs, Not Smoking Gun
by Dennis Bernstein and Robert Knight
8/5-8/18/1987 - In These Times

Congressional Prober Has North Connection
by Howard Levine, Vince Bielski and Dennis Bernstein
7/22-8/4/1987 - In These Times

Why is the CIA Contra Connection being Ignored?
by Dennis Bernstein and Robert Knight
3/31/1987 - Newsday
4/3/1987 - Minneapolis Star Ledger

Is North Network Cocaine Connected?
by Vince Bielski and Dennis Bernstein
10/16/1986 - In These Times

Florida Airport Open to Contra Arms
by Vince Bielski and Dennis Bernstein
10/16/1986 - In These Times

The Dirty Dealing in the Underground Contra Aid Network
by Vince Bielski and Dennis Bernstein
10/16/1986 - In These Times

By Category:

CIA Contra Connection

How the Contras Invaded the USA
by Dennis Bernstein and Robert Knight
Jan-Feb 1997 - The Shadow

Anatomy of a Coverup
by Dennis Bernstein and Robert Knight
11/28/1996 - Tucson Weekly
11/21/1996 - Boulder Weekly

Snow Blind
by Dennis Bernstein and Robert Knight
11/21/1996 - Tucson Weekly

Ollie North and Drugs
by Dennis Bernstein and Howard Levine
11/20/1996 - The Texas Observer

Federal Court Records Offer Plenty of
Leads on CIA-Contra Drug Trafficking
by Dennis Bernstein and Robert Knight
11/15/1996 - JINN Pacifica Online News

Right Hand, Left Hand - DEA Agents
Decade Long Battle to Expose CIA-Contra-Crack Story
by Dennis Bernstein and Robert Knight
10/8/1996 - Salon

Covert Action Rides Again
by Dennis Bernstein
11/1/1995 - San Francisco Bay Guardian

Why is the CIA-Contra-Cocaine Connection
Still Being Ignored?
by Dennis Bernstein and Robert Knight
9/22/1996 - The Baltimore Sun
9/22/1996 - The Herald Leader

DEA Agents Accuse American Spies
of Spying on them
by Dennis Bernstein and Robert Knight
9/12/1996 - JINN Pacifica News Service

Haiti, Drugs and the CIA
by Dennis Bernstein
12/6/1995 - JINN Magazine - Pacifica News Service

Haiti's Nightmare: The Cocaine Coup
and the CIA Connection
by Paul DeRienzo
Apr-Jun 1994 - The Shadow no. 32

Why is the CIA Contra Connection being Ignored?
by Dennis Bernstein and Robert Knight
3/31/1987 - Newsday
4/3/1987 - Minneapolis Star Ledger

Iran Contra: The Guardian Series

Witnesses Who Were Absent: Part I
by Peter Shinkle and Dennis Bernstein
9/23/1987 - San Francisco Bay Guardian

Contra Resuppliers Who Did Not Testify:
Part II
by Peter Shinkle and Dennis Bernstein
9/30/1987 - San Francisco Bay Guardian

An Uncompromising Look at the
Government's Role in the Drug Trade
by Peter Shinkle and Dennis Bernstein
11/18/1987 - San Francisco Bay Guardian

Report Links NSC With Costa Rica Drug Mystery
by Peter Shinkle and Dennis Bernstein
12/2/1987 - San Francisco Bay Guardian

U.S. Hires Drug Dealer to Deal
Humanitarian Aid
by Peter Shinkle and Dennis Bernstein
5/4/1988 - San Francisco Bay Guardian

Iran Contra: In These Times Series

Is North Network Cocaine Connected?
by Vince Bielski and Dennis Bernstein
10/16/1986 - In These Times

Florida Airport Open to Contra Arms
by Vince Bielski and Dennis Bernstein
10/16/1986 - In These Times

The Dirty Dealing in the Underground
Contra Aid Network
by Vince Bielski and Dennis Bernstein
10/16/1986 - In These Times

Congressional Prober Has North
by Howard Levine, Vince Bielski and Dennis Bernstein
7/22-8/4/1987 - In These Times

Three Committees Track Down
Smuggled Drugs, Not Smoking Gun
by Dennis Bernstein and Robert Knight
8/5-8/18/1987 - In These Times


People of the Opiate
by Dennis Bernstein and Leslie Kean
12/16/1996 - The Nation

Burma Boiling - Burma Military's Dirty Mission
by Dennis Bernstein and Leslie Kean
9/16/1998 - San Francisco Bay Guardian

The Gulf War Comes Home
by Dennis Bernstein and Thea Kelley
3/1995 - The Progressive

Gulf War Syndrome Covered Up - Chemical and Biological Agents Exposed
by Dennis Bernstein
Covert Action Quarterly #53

Black Church Burnings

Mississippi Burning
by Dennis Bernstein and Ron Nixon
7/17/1996 - San Francisco Bay Guardian

FBI Agents Downplay Civil Rights Aspects of Black Church Burnings
by Dennis Burnstein and Ron Nixon
6/13/1996 - JINN Magazine - Pacifica News Service

Washington Now
Government, Law and Politics

LSD Sentencing on Trial in the Supreme Court
by Dennis Bernstein and Thea Kelley
12/6/1995 - JINN Magazine - Pacifica News Service

Defending Pariahs: Interview with William Kunstler
by Dennis Bernstein and Julie Light
San Francisco Bay Guardian

Mumia Abu-Jamal: Broadcasts Spiked?
by Dennis Bernstein
4/10/1996 - San Francisco Bay Guardian

King Alfonse
by Dennis Bernstein
2/21/1996 - San Francisco Bay Guardian

Eye on New York: The D'Amato Ethics Investigation
Albany, 1996

Isabel Allende Interview
3/1995 - Mother Jones

The Real Drug Lords

A brief history of CIA involvement in the Drug Trade

by William Blum

1947 to 1951, FRANCE
According to Alfred W. McCoy in The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia,
CIA arms, money, and disinformation enabled Corsican criminal syndicates in
Marseille to wrestle control of labor unions from the Communist Party. The
Corsicans gained political influence and control over the docks -- ideal
conditions for cementing a long-term partnership with mafia drug
distributors, which turned Marseille into the postwar heroin capital of the
Western world. Marseille's first heroin laboratones were opened in 1951, only
months after the Corsicans took over the waterfront.

The Nationalist Chinese army, organized by the CIA to wage war against
Communist China, became the opium barons of The Golden Triangle (parts of
Burma, Thailand and Laos), the world's largest source of opium and heroin.
Air America, the ClA's principal airline proprietary, flew the drugs all over
Southeast Asia. (See Christopher Robbins, Air America, Avon Books, 1985,
chapter 9 )

1950s to early 1970s, INDOCHINA
During U.S. military involvement in Laos and other parts of Indochina, Air
America flew opium and heroin throughout the area. Many Gl's in Vietnam
became addicts. A laboratory built at CIA headquarters in northern Laos was
used to refine heroin. After a decade of American military intervention,
Southeast Asia had become the source of 70 percent of the world's illicit
opium and the major supplier of raw materials for America's booming heroin

1973-80, AUSTRALIA
The Nugan Hand Bank of Sydney was a CIA bank in all but name. Among its
officers were a network of US generals, admirals and CIA men, including
fommer CIA Director William Colby, who was also one of its lawyers. With
branches in Saudi Arabia, Europe, Southeast Asia, South America and the U.S.,
Nugan Hand Bank financed drug trafficking, money laundering and international
arms dealings. In 1980, amidst several mysterious deaths, the bank collapsed,
$50 million in debt. (See Jonathan Kwitny, The Crimes of Patriots: A True
Tale of Dope, Dirty Money and the CIA, W.W. Norton & Co., 1 987.)

1970s and 1980s, PANAMA
For more than a decade, Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega was a highly
paid CIA asset and collaborator, despite knowledge by U.S. drug authorities
as early as 1971 that the general was heavily involved in drug trafficking
and money laundering. Noriega facilitated ''guns-for-drugs" flights for the
contras, providing protection and pilots, as well as safe havens for drug
cartel otficials, and discreet banking facilities. U.S. officials, including
then-ClA Director William Webster and several DEA officers, sent Noriega
letters of praise for efforts to thwart drug trafficking (albeit only against
competitors of his Medellin Cartel patrons). The U.S. government only turned
against Noriega, invading Panama in December 1989 and kidnapping the general
once they discovered he was providing intelligence and services to the Cubans
and Sandinistas. Ironically drug trafficking through Panama increased after
the US invasion. (John Dinges, Our Man in Panama, Random House, 1991;
National Security Archive Documentation Packet The Contras, Cocaine, and
Covert Operations.)

The San Jose Mercury News series documents just one thread of the
interwoven operations linking the CIA, the contras and the cocaine cartels.
Obsessed with overthrowing the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua,
Reagan administration officials tolerated drug trafficking as long as the
traffickers gave support to the contras. In 1989, the Senate Subcommittee on
Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations (the Kerry committee)
concluded a three-year investigation by stating: "There was substantial
evidence of drug smuggling through the war zones on the part of individual
Contras, Contra suppliers, Contra pilots mercenaries who worked with the
Contras, and Contra supporters throughout the region.... U.S. officials
involved in Central America failed to address the drug issue for fear of
jeopardizing the war efforts against Nicaragua.... In each case, one or
another agency of the U.S. govemment had intormation regarding the
involvement either while it was occurring, or immediately thereafter....
Senior U S policy makers were nit immune to the idea that drug money was a
perfect solution to the Contras' funding problems." (Drugs, Law Enforcement
and Foreign Policy, a Report of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations,
Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and Intemational Operations, 1989)
In Costa Rica, which served as the "Southern Front" for the contras
(Honduras being the Northern Front), there were several different ClA-contra
networks involved in drug trafficking. In addition to those servicing the
Meneses-Blandon operation detailed by the Mercury News, and Noriega's
operation, there was CIA operative John Hull, whose farms along Costa Rica's
border with Nicaragua were the main staging area for the contras. Hull and
other ClA-connected contra supporters and pilots teamed up with George
Morales, a major Miami-based Colombian drug trafficker who later admitted to
giving $3 million in cash and several planes to contra leaders. In 1989,
after the Costa Rica government indicted Hull for drug trafficking, a
DEA-hired plane clandestinely and illegally flew the CIA operative to Miami,
via Haiti. The US repeatedly thwarted Costa Rican efforts to extradite Hull
back to Costa Rica to stand trial.
Another Costa Rican-based drug ring involved a group of Cuban Amencans
whom the CIA had hired as military trainers for the contras. Many had long
been involved with the CIA and drug trafficking They used contra planes and a
Costa Rican-based shnmp company, which laundered money for the CIA, to move
cocaine to the U.S.
Costa Rica was not the only route. Guatemala, whose military intelligence
service -- closely associated with the CIA -- harbored many drug traffickers,
according to the DEA, was another way station along the cocaine highway.
Additionally, the Medell!n Cartel's Miami accountant, Ramon Milian Rodriguez,
testified that he funneled nearly $10 million to Nicaraguan contras through
long-time CIA operative Felix Rodriguez, who was based at Ilopango Air Force
Base in El Salvador.
The contras provided both protection and infrastructure (planes, pilots,
airstrips, warehouses, front companies and banks) to these ClA-linked drug
networks. At least four transport companies under investigation for drug
trafficking received US govemment contracts to carry non-lethal supplies to
the contras. Southern Air Transport, "formerly" ClA-owned, and later under
Pentagon contract, was involved in the drug running as well. Cocaine-laden
planes flew to Florida, Texas, Louisiana and other locations, including
several militarv bases Designated as 'Contra Craft,'' these shipments were
not to be inspected. When some authority wasn't clued in and made an arrest,
powerful strings were pulled on behalf of dropping the case, acquittal,
reduced sentence, or deportation.

1980s to early 1990s, AFGHANISTAN
ClA-supported Moujahedeen rebels engaged heavily in drug trafficking while
fighting against the Soviet-supported govemment and its plans to reform the
very backward Afghan society. The Agency's principal client was Gulbuddin
Hekmatyar, one of the leading druglords and leading heroin refiner. CIA
supplied trucks and mules, which had carried arms into Afghanistan, were used
to transport opium to laboratories along the Afghan Pakistan border. The
output provided up to one half of the heroin used annually in the United
States and three-quarters of that used in Western Europe. US officials
admitted in 1990 that they had failed to investigate or take action against
the drug operabon because of a desire not to offend their Pakistani and
Afghan allies. In 1993, an official of the DEA called Afghanistan the new
Colombia of the drug world.

MlD-1980s to early 199Os, HAITI
While working to keep key Haitian military and political leaders in power,
the CIA turned a blind eye to their clients' drug trafficking. In 1986, the
Agency added some more names to its payroll by creating a new Haitian
organization, the National Intelligence Service (SIN). SIN was purportedly
created to fight the cocaine trade, though SIN officers themselves engaged in
the trafficking, a trade aided and abetted by some of the Haitian military
and political leaders.

William Blum is author of Killing Hope: U.S Military and CIA Interventions
Since World War ll available from Common Courage Press, P.O. Box 702, Monroe,

Maine, 04951, USA; tel: (207) 525-0900; fax: (207) 525-3068


DEA Chief Robert Bonner said CIA Smuggled Drugs

L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."—Senator John Kerry (1996)

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. -1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, CIA Headquarters
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For Release, August 2, 2004

For more information contact
Michael Evans - 202/994-7000


Then-Senator "Dedicated to Collaboration with the Medellín Cartel at High Government Levels"

Confidential DIA Report Had Uribe Alongside Pablo Escobar, Narco-Assassins

Uribe "Worked for the Medellín Cartel" and was a "Close Personal Friend of Pablo Escobar"

Washington, D.C., 1 August 2004 - Then-Senator and now President Álvaro Uribe Vélez of Colombia was a "close personal friend of Pablo Escobar" who was "dedicated to collaboration with the Medellín [drug] cartel at high government levels," according to a 1991 intelligence report from U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) officials in Colombia. The document was posted today on the website of the National Security Archive, a non-governmental research group based at George Washington University.

Uribe's inclusion on the list raises new questions about allegations that surfaced during Colombia's 2002 presidential campaign. Candidate Uribe bristled and abruptly terminated an interview in March 2002 when asked by Newsweek reporter Joseph Contreras about his alleged ties to Escobar and his associations with others involved in the drug trade. Uribe accused Contreras of trying to smear his reputation, saying that, "as a politician, I have been honorable and accountable."

The newly-declassified report, dated 23 September 1991, is a numbered list of "the more important Colombian narco-traffickers contracted by the Colombian narcotic cartels for security, transportation, distribution, collection and enforcement of narcotics operations." The document was released by DIA in May 2004 in response to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the Archive in August 2000.

The source of the report was removed by DIA censors, but the detailed, investigative nature of the report -- the list corresponds with a numbered set of photographs that were apparently provided with the original -- suggests it was probably obtained from Colombian or U.S. counternarcotics personnel. The document notes that some of the information in the report was verified "via interfaces with other agencies."

President Uribe -- now a key U.S. partner in the drug war -- "was linked to a business involved in narcotics activities in the United States" and "has worked for the Medellín cartel," the narcotics trafficking organization led by Escobar until he was killed by Colombian government forces in 1993. The report adds that Uribe participated in Escobar's parliamentary campaign and that as senator he had "attacked all forms of the extradition treaty" with the U.S.

"Because both the source of the report and the reporting officer's comments section were not declassified, we cannot be sure how the DIA judged the accuracy of this information," said Michael Evans, director of the Archive's Colombia Documentation Project, "but we do know that intelligence officials believed the document was serious and important enough to pass on to analysts in Washington."

In a statement issued on July 30, the Colombian government took exception to several items reported in the document, saying that Uribe has never had any foreign business dealings, that his father was killed while fleeing a kidnap attempt by FARC guerrillas, and that he had not opposed the extradition treaty, but merely hoped to postpone a referendum to prevent the possibility that narcotraffickers would influence the vote.

The communiqué, however, did not deny the most significant allegation reported in the document: that Uribe had a close personal relationship with Pablo Escobar and business dealings with the Medellín Cartel.

The document is marked "CONFIDENTIAL NOFORN WNINTEL," indicating that its disclosure could reasonably be expected to damage national security, that its content was based on intelligence sources and methods, and that it should not be shared with foreign nationals.

Uribe, the 82nd name on the list, appears on the same page as Escobar and Fidel Castaño, who went on to form the country's major paramilitary army, a State Department-designated terrorist group now engaged in peace negotiations with the Uribe government. Written in March 1991 while Escobar was still a fugitive, the report was forwarded to Washington several months after his surrender to Colombian authorities in June 1991.

Most of those on the list are well-known drug traffickers or assassins associated with the Medellín cartel. Others listed include ex-president of Panama Manuel Noriega, Iran-contra arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, and Carlos Vives, a Colombian entertainer said to be connected to the narcotics business through his uncle.

Click here to read the document

23 September 1991 (Date of Information 18 March 1991)
Narcotics - Colombian Narco-trafficker Profiles
Defense Intelligence Agency, Intelligence Information Report, Confidential, 14 pp.
Source: Declassification Release Under the Freedom of Information Act, May 2004

Is the Document Accurate?

As stated in the document, the report is "not finally evaluated" intelligence information. In other words, the information reported in the document is only as good as its source. In this case, the DIA has withheld from release the source of the information as well as the comments of the reporting official from the Department of Defense, making it difficult to verify the accuracy of the information listed in the document. However, the document differs from the average field report in several ways:

1) The summary indicates that information in the report was cross-checked "via interfaces with other agencies," indicating that some evaluation had already taken place.

2) The summary offers no caveats or qualifications on the credibility of the information and is stated as fact. It thus seems likely that the originator of the report (the "source") believed the information to be true.

3) The report includes many details like identification card numbers and dates of birth, giving it the appearance of an official, investigative document. The fact that the numbered list corresponds to photographs that were provided with the original suggests that the report had a variety of uses, including criminal investigations and immigration cases.

4) Much of the information on other individuals identified in the report is accurate and easily verifiable.

5) It is evident that a significant amount of time and energy went into compiling this report, and that it did not come from a single source at a cocktail party as these reports often do.

Official Response

Full text of communiqué from the Colombian government (Casa de Nariño) - Spanish (English translation below)

"La Presidencia de la República ha tenido conocimiento en el día de hoy sobre información en poder de algunos medios de comunicación, relativa a un documento de la Defense Inteligente Agency de los Estados Unidos, elaborado en septiembre de 1991. Dicho documento fue revelado en virtud de un derecho de petición en ese país.

"El documento sugiere que Álvaro Uribe Vélez tenía en ese entonces relaciones con el narcotráfico y el Cartel de Medellín, que su padre fue asesinado por sus relaciones con los narcotraficantes, que era amigo personal de Pablo Escobar y participó en la campaña que llevó a este a la Cámara de Representantes como segundo renglón de Jairo Ortega, y que, como Senador, Uribe se opuso al tratado de extradición.

El documento señala que se trata de información que no fue evaluada (“Not finally evaluated”).

Frente a lo anterior, la Presidencia de la República informa lo siguiente:

1) Esta información es la misma que, en su momento, hizo parte de los ataques de que fue objeto el Presidente Álvaro Uribe Vélez como candidato durante su campaña presidencial.

2) En 1991, Álvaro Uribe Vélez, entonces Senador, estuvo en los Estados Unidos en un programa académico de la Universidad de Harvard, mientras sesionaba la Asamblea Constituyente, periodo durante el cual tuvo lugar la revocatoria del Congreso.

3) Álvaro Uribe Vélez no ha tenido negocios de ningún tipo en el extranjero. Como lo explicó durante su campaña a los medios de comunicación, cuando se debatieron los mismos temas, sólo tuvo dos cuentas bancarias en el exterior: una en un banco de Bostón, adjunto a la Universidad de Harvard y otra en Oxford, Inglaterra, mientras estuvo en esa universidad en 1998. No tiene un solo bien en el extranjero.

4) Alberto Uribe Sierra, padre del Presidente, fue asesinado por el 5º frente de las FARC el 14 de junio de 1983 al resistir un intento de secuestro. Uribe Sierra enfrentó a sus secuestradores; en el enfrentamiento resultó herido su hijo Santiago.

5) Álvaro Uribe Vélez fue elegido Senador en tres oportunidades: en 1986, 1990 y 1991 como miembro del movimiento “Directorio Liberal de Antioquia - Sector Democrático“. (Jairo Ortega, de quien Escobar fue segundo renglón, fue elegido a la Cámara de Representantes por un movimiento diferente en 1982).

6) En los anales del Congreso de 1989, consta la posición del senador Uribe Vélez sobre la extradición. La única que el Senador tuvo sobre el tema durante su desempeño como Senador.

Posición que fue reiterada en el año 2002 por el entonces candidato presidencial en entrevistas para los periódicos El Tiempo y El Espectador de Bogotá y la Cadena Radial Caracol:

"Después, en la segunda ronda, infortunadamente, la Cámara de Representantes incluyó ese mico para que se llevara un referéndum preguntándoles a los colombianos si rechazaban o no la extradición en lo que deberían ser las elecciones parlamentarias de marzo de 1990". (…) “yo me levante y dije que era altamente inconveniente que ese referéndum coincidiera con las elecciones parlamentarias porque entonces se corría el riesgo de que el narcotráfico presionara esas elecciones. Dije que una alternativa debería ser que, si se iba a llevar adelante el referendo se llevará adelante después de las elecciones parlamentarias y después de la elección presidencial, para que no hubiera lugar a presiones". (El Tiempo, 23 de marzo de 2003).

7) Durante su Gobierno, Álvaro Uribe ha autorizado la extradición de más de 170 personas solicitadas por diferentes países para ser juzgadas por narcotráfico y otros delitos, incluido el lavado de activos.

8) Como Presidente se opone a la modificación del mecanismo de extradición vigente.

Bogotá, julio 30 de 2004

Full text of communiqué from the Colombian government (Casa de Nariño) - English [Unofficial English translation by Michael Evans]

"Today, the President of the Republic has learned about information in possession of the news media relating to a document from the Defense Intelligence Agency of the United States from September 1991. The document was released by virtue of a right to petition in that country.

"The document suggests that Álvaro Uribe Vélez then had relations with narcotrafficking and the Medellín Cartel, that his father was assassinated for his relations to the narcotraffickers, that he was a personal friend of Pablo Escobar and participated in his campaign to become assistant parliamentarian to Jairo Ortega, and that, as Senator, Uribe opposed the extradition treaty.

The document indicates that the information it contains is "not finally evaluated."

In the face of this information, the President of the Republic states the following:

1) This information is the same that, at the time, was part of the attacks that President Álvaro Uribe Vélez was subjected to as a candidate during his presidential campaign.

2) In 1991, Álvaro Uribe Vélez, then Senator, was in the United States in an academic program at Harvard University, while the Constitutional Assembly was in session, during which period the Congress was suspended.

3) Álvaro Uribe Vélez has not had business of any kind outside of Colombia. As he explained to the news media during his campaign, when these same issues were raised, he had only two foreign bank accounts: one in a bank in Boston, attached to Harvard University and the other in Oxford, England, while he was at that university in 1998. He does not have even one foreign asset.

4) Álvaro Uribe Sierra, father of the President, was assassinated by the 5th Front of the FARC on 14 June 1983 while resisting a kidnapping attempt. Uribe Sierra confronted his kidnappers; the confrontation resulted in the wounding of his son Santiago.

5) Álvaro Uribe Vélez was elected Senator three times: in 1986, 1990 and 1991 as member of the "Directorio Liberal de Antioquia - Sector Democrático" movement. (Jairo Ortega, to whom Escobar was assistant parliamentarian, was elected to the Parliament by a different movement in 1982).

6) In the congressional archives from 1989, Senator Uribe's position on extradition is clear. The only position that the Senator ever took on this issue during his tenure as Senator. A position that was reiterated in 2002 by the then-presidential candidate in interviews with the newspapers El Tiempo and El Espectador de Bogotá y la Cadena Radial Caracol:

"Later, in the second term, unfortunately, the House of Representatives included this rider to advance a referendum asking Colombians to accept or reject extradition when it should have been the parliamentary elections of 1990". (...) "I got up and said that it was highly inconvenient that this referendum coincided with the parliamentary elections because then they were running the risk that narcotraffickers would affect these elections. I said that an alternative should be that, if they are going to raise the referendum, to raise it after the parliamentary elections and after the presidential election, so that they could not bring these pressures to bear. (El Tiempo, 23 de marzo 2003).

7) During his Government, Álvaro Uribe has authorized the extradition of more than 170 individuals solicited by various contries to be tried for narcotrafficking and other crimes, including money laundering.

8) As President he opposes the modification of the mechanism of extradition now in force.

Bogotá, 30 July 2004

Press Reports

Joseph Contreras, "A Harsh Light on Associate 82," Newsweek, International Edition, 9 August 2004 edition

Also see: Joseph Contreras, "Blacklist to the A List," Newsweek 9 August 2004 edition -

Juan Forero, "'91 U.S. Report Calls Colombian Leader Ally of Drug Lords," New York Times, 2 August 2004

T. Christian Miller, "U.S. Intelligence Tied Colombia's Uribe to Drug Trade in '91 Report," Los Angeles Times, 2 August 2004

Dan Molinski, "U.S. Defends Uribe Over Alleged Drug Ties," Associated Press (via Guardian Unlimited), 3 August 2004

"Departamento de Estado de E.U. rechaza documento que vincula a Álvaro Uribe con el narcotráfico," El Tiempo, 1 August 2004

Semana.com - ENTREVISTA con Michael Evans
"La historia detrás del documento de inteligencia que acusó a Uribe de tener vínculos con el cartel de Medellín," 8 August 2004


DEA Chief Robert Bonner said CIA Smuggled Drugs

L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."—Senator John Kerry (1996)

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. -1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, CIA Headquarters
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A Harsh Light On Associate 82


A declassified Pentagon report claims Uribe once worked for Pablo Escobar

By Joseph Contreras
Newsweek International

Aug. 9 issue - In September 1991 the U.S. Department of Defense compiled a list of individuals believed to be associated with Colombia's notorious Medellin drug cartel. There are 106 names on the newly declassified intelligence document, and they read like a who's who of thugs, assassins, midlevel traffickers and crooked attorneys. The cartel's ruthless kingpin, Pablo Escobar, was prominent on the list, of course, along with the former Panamanian dictator Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega. But the real head turner is item No. 82, which reads as follows: "Alvaro Uribe Velez—a Colombian politician and senator dedicated to collaboration with the Medellin cartel at high government levels. Uribe was linked to a business involved in narcotics activities in the U.S.... Uribe has worked for the Medellin cartel and is a close personal friend of Pablo Escobar Gaviria."


The Pentagon report portrays Uribe in a light sharply at variance with his current image as Washington's main ally in the U.S.-financed war on drugs in South America. But in those days, he was among dozens of Colombian pols who openly opposed the extradition of their drug-trafficking countrymen. Uribe has since changed his views—and, in fact, his government has sent scores of drug traffickers to the United States for prosecution since he took office.

The report was obtained by the National Security Archive, a Washington-based nongovernmental research group. The identity of the document's author was removed by Pentagon censors. The detailed thumbnail descriptions of the Medellin cartel's associates suggest that the data came from Colombian or U.S. counter-narcotics officials, and the text states at the beginning that the report "forwards profiles on the more important narco-terrorists contracted by the Colombian narcotic cartels." It is stamped CONFIDENTIAL NOFORN WNINTEL, meaning that its contents shouldn't be shared with foreign nationals. The U.S. ambassador to Colombia in 1991, Morris Busby, does not recall the document, and efforts to reach the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency liaison officer in Bogota in 1991, retired Army Col. James S. Roche Jr., failed to elicit a response. In a two-page written statement, the office of the Colombian president denied that Uribe had links of any kind to a business in the United States as asserted in the 1991 report. But the statement did not address the allegations that Uribe had worked for the Medellin cartel and was a close friend of Escobar, who was killed in a 1993 police raid.

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.

Blacklist to the A List

Once deemed a bad guy, Uribe is now a top ally

By Joseph Contreras and Steven Ambrus

Aug. 9 issue - The declassified Defense Department intelligence report, dated September 1991, reads like a Who's Who of Colombia's cocaine trade. The list includes the Medellin cartel's kingpin, Pablo Escobar, and more than 100 other thugs, assassins, traffickers and shady lawyers in his alleged employ. Then there's entry 82: "Alvaro Uribe Velez—a Colombian politician and senator dedicated to collaboration with the Medellin cartel at high government levels. Uribe was linked to a business involved in narcotics activities in the U.S. ... Uribe has worked for the Medellin cartel and is a close personal friend of Pablo Escobar Gaviria." Escobar died in a 1993 police raid. Two years ago this week, Uribe became president of Colombia.


Washington loves him. In a two-page written statement, the Colombian president's office denied that Uribe had links of any kind to a U.S. business, as described in the 1991 report. (The list was obtained by the National Security Archive, an independent U.S. research group.) But the statement did not address the allegations that Uribe had worked for the Medellin cartel and was Escobar's close friend. It may be that Uribe thinks his recent actions speak louder than denials: in the last two years, Colombia has extradited 140 accused traffickers to the United States—a figure unmatched by any previous president. "This is probably one of the most pro-American presidents in Latin America's entire history," says Adam Isacson, at the Center for International Policy in Washington.

Still, questions persist. Uribe has been talking peace with outlawed right-wing paramilitaries. These groups began in self-defense against an out-of-control Marxist guerrilla movement, yet they supported themselves via the drug trade. After winning office on a pledge to stop leftist guerrillas, Uribe is now offering leniency to paramilitaries who renounce trafficking and disarm. "Some of these people don't even have anti-guerrilla credentials," says Isacson. "They're just drug traffickers who've bought their way into the paramilitary movement as a way to claim political status, legitimize their fortunes and walk free." Most Colombians seem unconcerned. With the president's approval ratings hovering above 70 percent, he's likely to get a constitutional amendment later this year to let him run again in 2006—and win.

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.

International Mail Call

Colombia's President

Newsweek International

Sept. 27 issue - Our Aug. 9 story on Alvaro Uribe, based on a controversial Pentagon report, led readers to the Colombian president's defense. Cried one, "NEWSWEEK, you were had!" Said another, "Uribe is winning the drug war."

Defending Uribe's Record

It's unfair of NEWSWEEK to publish a declassified "intelligence" report from 1991 that leaves the impression that, at the time, the U.S. government suspected Alvaro Uribe, now president of Colombia, of being linked to narcotics trafficking ("Off the Hook?" Aug. 9). To the contrary, Uribe was known to those of us who followed his career as one of those brave public figures willing to openly proclaim their opposition to the drug cartel that then threatened to dominate his home city of Medellin. I was chief of South American affairs in the State Department when I first saw that inaccurate report from the Defense attache and complained. The U.S. Embassy in Bogota later corrected the record. That correction should have been declassified along with the original sloppy report that NEWSWEEK too readily credited.
Phillip McLean
Washington, D.C.

NEWSWEEK, you were truly and grossly had! Communist guerrillas in Colombia, especially those known as the FARC, feed well-elaborated lies to poorly informed journalists. They even spend a lot of money buying columnists of the most influential international publications to discredit President Uribe, the first true enemy they have found in Colombia's troubled recent history. In fact, he is the No. 1 champion of the battle against terrorist gangs fueled by dope money. Your readers should know that FARC is not a political organization; it consists of drug producers and smugglers of the worst kind. They generate terror in little towns deep in the countryside and spread fear among farmers in their quest for political power. They are responsible for thousands of kidnappings, assassinations and disappearances. They abuse the liberty that our Constitution grants them and they have a few representatives elected to Congress whose job it is to disinform and spread calumny against President Uribe because he is winning the war against drug traffickers and terrorists.
Said Gutierrez
Madrid, Spain

Your article regarding the president of Colombia is unbecoming of a magazine of your stature. What was stated in that article is unsubstantiated. The intelligence report does not offer any actual proof of those accusations. It is common knowledge that Uribe's father's farm bordered Pablo Escobar's father's farm and the two elders shared a great interest in horses. It would be simple to assume that Uribe and Pablo Escobar knew each other. However, no one has ever shown that there were any established ties between the two. Uribe has enough enemies that, if this were true, it would have been investigated and prosecuted a long time ago. It is sad that your magazine decided to fuel a personal vendetta against a sitting president who is fighting a very difficult war against insurgents and right-wing paramilitaries. Do some more research, please.
J. David Perez
Clearwater, Florida

You argue that Alvaro Uribe had connections with paramilitary and narco groups. This information is false: our president has shown an excellent governing style. NEWSWEEK should be more careful with information that is not confirmed.
Carlos Arias
New York, New York

How dare you publish an unverified document with allegations that Colombia's president had connections with drug dealers, listing him in the same category as Pablo Escobar? Did you just pick up gossip from somewhere that fits your own political agenda? How dare you make such a strong statement about someone who has extradited more than 140 drug dealers to the United States? Nobody has confronted Colombia's conflict as President Uribe has. We are, for the first time in decades, winning this war—thanks to this administration. Ask the U.S. government about it. The Colombian people are so happy with Uribe that, for the first time in our history, we are considering changing our Constitution in order to re-elect him. After two years as president, his approval rating topped 80 percent.
Maria Mendoza
Bogota, Colombia

Why are you trying to discredit the best president Colombia has had in decades? Dragging out an old and mistaken accusation by the U.S. Department of Defense against Alvaro Uribe certainly does not speak well of your journalistic objectivity or good judgment.
Timmy Ashe
Cali, Colombia

Re-Elections in Latin America?

Joe Contreras's analysis of Colombia's risk in seeking a constitutional change that would permit President Uribe to seek re-election ("The Re-Election Risk," June 28), cites other countries in South America, notably Argentina and Peru, where similar initiatives led to failed leadership. But Colombia's challenges in the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking are unique and require bold solutions and strong leadership. Colombians have found this in President Uribe, which is why after 24 months in power as Colombia's chief executive, he remains the most popular president in the country's modern history. Colombia has strong and mature political institutions and a strong tradition of elections. Besides, contrary to what Contreras implies in citing Congressman Gustavo Petro, Colombia has a free press that serves as an effective check against any Colombian leader who would seek to exercise political power beyond what the country's Constitution provides. If the Constitution is amended to enable President Uribe to seek a second term, he remains accountable to a Colombian electorate who will decide if his continued leadership is beneficial to the nation.
Fernando Rojas
Medellin, Colombia


DEA Chief Robert Bonner said CIA Smuggled Drugs

L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."—Senator John Kerry (1996)

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. -1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, CIA Headquarters
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U.S. attorney withdraws charges over Cali cartel

Damage control after allegation that ex-president was bribed

Associated Press
Updated: 6:55 a.m. ET March 18, 2005

BOGOTA, Colombia - A U.S. federal attorney who accused the Cali drug cartel of bribing former President Ernesto Samper and dozens of congressmen to pass a favorable extradition law retracted his statement after Colombia threatened to stop turning over suspected traffickers to the United States.

Samper denied the allegations by U.S. Attorney Paul Perez, made in a March 9 court paper obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday. Still they caused an uproar in Colombia as officials questioned whether the United States remained committed to the 1997 treaty.

U.S. Ambassador William Wood held a late-night news conference to try to repair the damage, insisting the United States would comply with the extradition requirements from its key ally in Latin America.

'Confusion' cited
Wood, however, refused to explain why the document was shelved, saying only there had been a “confusion” and that he had just handed President Alvaro Uribe a revised version that omitted any mention of the accusations against Samper and the other politicians.

In a statement, Perez’s office confirmed a new document had been filed with the U.S. District Court in Tampa, Fla., but also gave no reason for the decision.

Perez’s statements about Samper came in a response to arguments from extradited cocaine kingpin Joaquin Mario Valencia Trujillo that evidence should not be allowed for crimes committed before December 1997.

Asked whether the United States believed Samper and the others were innocent of the charges, Wood said: “All I can say is that the withdrawal and revocation of this document carries its own message.”

“The new document does not have anything to say about the alleged bribery surrounding Congress’ 1997 decision to renew the extradition process,” he said.

Perez’s March 9 statement said Samper received $5 million in bribes from the Cali cartel to promote passage of the Colombian law that prohibits extraditions for crimes committed before December 1997. The Cali cartel controlled the world’s cocaine trafficking networks in the mid-1990s but went into decline after its leaders were arrested in 1995.

First public accusation
Perez’s comments marked the first time Samper had been publicly accused of receiving traffickers’ bribes during his 1994-98 term. He previously was accused of taking Cali cartel contributions during his election campaign.

“I reject in the most categorical and absolute manner the accusation presented ... by a prosecutor in Florida,” Samper said, reading a statement to The AP over the phone.

Perez dismissed Colombia’s extradition law — Article 35 of the Colombian Constitution — as “the product of the successful bribery of [then] Colombian President Ernesto Samper and the Colombian Congress by the Cali cartel to immunize them from extradition to the United States.”

Colombia’s ambassador to Washington, Luis Alfonso Moreno, demanded Perez explain himself.

“What the prosecutor has affirmed puts at risk the extradition treaty,” Moreno told local RCN Radio. “Prosecutor Perez has the obligation, if he has proof of a supposed bribe from the defunct Cali cartel, to present it to the Colombian government as quickly as possible.”

Uribe, who has sent more than 200 Colombians to face U.S. justice in the past two years, made no comment.

In the March 9 paper, Perez said U.S. prosecutors would show that Samper and the Colombian Congress were bribed.

“The government will present testimony that the Cali cartel, of which the defendant is and was a member, jointly collected $5 million to pay President Samper to support Article 35 and make it law,” Perez wrote. “Testimony will also establish that almost one-half of the entire Colombian Congress was similarly bribed by the Cali cartel to support the identical legislation.”

Gilberto and Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela, the two brothers who led the Cali cartel, were recently extradited to Miami to face trial. U.S. prosecutors say the brothers continued to run their drug empire from behind bars after they were arrested in Colombia in 1995.

Colombian investigations have shown the Cali cartel contributed millions of dollars to Samper’s 1994 presidential campaign, although he claimed ignorance of the donations. The United States revoked Samper’s visa during his four-year term as president of a country that produces most of the world’s cocaine.

© 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

New Wave of Colombia Drug Kingpins Emerges

Updated: 10:57 a.m. ET Sept. 22, 2004

BOGOTA, Colombia - A new wave of drug kingpins is emerging in Colombia _ traffickers who operate from the shadows, seeking only profits and avoiding the excesses of previous generations of drug lords, a top intelligence official said.

"They're basically dedicated to laundering profits in the international financial system, and they're experts in marketing," Col. Oscar Naranjo, head of Colombia's judicial police, said Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press.

Previous generations of traffickers led lavish lifestyles, and some like Pablo Escobar even ran for political office, raising their profile and attracting the interest of law enforcement.

Naranjo, one of Colombia's most respected law enforcement officers who works closely with U.S. drug agents, said the development of drug trafficking in Colombia, the world's main source of cocaine, can be broken down into generations.

_ The first generation, in the 1960s and 1970s, smuggled tons of marijuana from the mountains of Colombia to the United States.

_ Moving into cocaine trafficking, the second generation was headed by Escobar's Medellin cocaine cartel, which waged a bloody terrorist campaign of bombings and assassinations in the 1980s to avoid being extradited to the United States. Escobar was killed by police in 1993, after the heyday of the Medellin cartel was already over.

_ The third generation, headed by the Cali cartel, was "more sophisticated" and tried to corrupt politicians to escape justice instead of ruling by brute force, but still remained in the public spotlight.

Now, in addition to leftist rebels, their right-wing paramilitary foes, and the Northern Valley cartel which is an offshoot of the Cali mob, the fourth generation of traffickers has emerged, the police commander said.

"Today, they want to be invisible," Naranjo, wearing a sober business suit, said in the interview at the AP offices in Bogota. "We don't even know the names of the big capos."

The new drug traffickers are harder to track since they, unlike their predecessors, are not the ones producing or monitoring the production of the drugs, Naranjo said.

Instead, these new traffickers simply purchase the cocaine and heroin from the rebel and paramilitary groups in Colombia that over several years have set up large, well-protected cocaine production facilities in Colombia's jungles.

While drug trafficking used to revolve around a few kingpins such as Escobar, today the business has become a free market, replete with subcontractors. Those interested in trafficking drugs can negotiate with various groups to buy cocaine and heroin and then separately deal with transporting the drugs, typically to Mexico and then to the United States, Naranjo said

This new way of doing business has also turned Mexican drug traffickers, who traditionally remained at home while Colombian traffickers delivered the goods, into traveling businessmen, Naranjo said.

"In the past the Colombian narcos brought the drugs to Mexico," he said, explaining that now, the Mexicans, particularly from the powerful Gulf cartel, come here looking for business.

He said Mexican traffickers have come to Colombia carrying up to US$1 million in cash to buy the drugs, and then organize smuggling them to Mexico, usually in shipping containers aboard freighters that depart from Colombia's Pacific coast.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

U.S. soldiers, officials nabbed in cocaine sting

16 to plead guilty in bribery and extortion conspiracy

The Associated Press
Updated: 2:41 p.m. ET May 12, 2005

WASHINGTON - FBI agents posing as cocaine traffickers in Arizona caught 16 current and former U.S. soldiers and law enforcement personnel who took $220,000 in bribes to help move the drugs through checkpoints, Justice Department officials said Thursday.

Those charged include a former Immigration and Naturalization Service inspector, a former Army sergeant, a former federal prison guard, current and former members of the Arizona Army National Guard and the state corrections department, and a Nogales, Ariz., police officer, officials said.

All 16 have agreed to plead guilty to being part of a bribery and extortion conspiracy, the result of the nearly 3½-year FBI sting, acting assistant attorney general John C. Richter and FBI agent Jana D. Monroe said. Monroe directs FBI operations in Arizona.

The single conspiracy count carries a maximum prison term of five years and a fine of $250,000. The 16 defendants have agreed to cooperate with the ongoing investigation, officials said.

Phony trafficking organization
The FBI set up the phony trafficking organization in December 2001, then lured military and police personnel with money to help distribute the cocaine or allow it to pass through checkpoints they were guarding, officials said.

One defendant, John M. Castillo, 30, was on duty as an INS inspector at a border checkpoint in Nogales in April 2002 when he twice allowed a truck he believed was carrying at least 88 pounds of cocaine to enter the country without being inspected, the Justice Department said.

In another instance, also in 2002, several of those charged met an aircraft piloted by undercover FBI agents that was carrying 132 pounds of cocaine at a remote desert airstrip, officials said. In full uniform, they supervised the loading of the cocaine into two military Humvees assigned to the National Guard and another government vehicle, then drove to a resort hotel in Phoenix. There, another undercover agent posing as a trafficker paid them off in cash, the Justice Department said.

The FBI used real cocaine seized in other operations, the officials said. The 16 suspects transported more than 1,230 pounds of cocaine and accepted more than $222,000 in bribes, the officials said. Each escorted at least two shipments of cocaine to Phoenix, Las Vegas and other locations, they said.

© 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Colombia seizes more than 13 tons of cocaine

Government says drugs belonged to right-wing paramilitaries

Updated: 8:58 a.m. ET May 14, 2005

BOGOTA, Colombia - More than 13.5 tons of cocaine stored in underground chambers was seized near Colombia’s southwest coast, authorities said Friday.

The cocaine was discovered Thursday in the jungle in Narino state, which lies along the Pacific coast and the Ecuador border. Five people were arrested.

“We believe this is the biggest storage area of cocaine in the world,” Navy Capt. Jairo Pena said Friday.

The seizure — one of the largest in recent years — represents more than 3 percent of what the U.S. government says is Colombia’s annual potential cocaine output of 430 tons.

Gen. Jorge Daniel Castro, chief of the Colombian National Police, said the cocaine belonged to right-wing paramilitary forces and leftist rebels. The groups are bitter enemies but have been known to occasionally cooperate in drug trafficking to earn huge profits.

“When committing a crime for economic reasons, they take advantage of any opportunity in search of means for financing terrorism,” Soto said.

Narino is one of Colombia’s prime cocaine-producing regions. Colombia produces the vast majority of the world’s cocaine.

In 2004, the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy seized 28 tons of cocaine from two fishing boats off the coast of the Galapagos Islands.

© 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


DEA Chief Robert Bonner said CIA Smuggled Drugs

L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."—Senator John Kerry (1996)

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. -1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, CIA Headquarters
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August 2, 2004
'91 U.S. Report Calls Colombian Leader Ally of Drug Lords

Associated Press
President Álvaro Uribe backs U.S. efforts against drug trafficking.

BOGOTÁ, Colombia, Aug. 1 - A recently declassified American intelligence report from 1991 says that President Álvaro Uribe, now a staunch ally in Washington's war against drug trafficking, was at that time a close associate of Colombia's most powerful drug lord and an ardent ally of the cocaine traffickers then engulfing this country.

A spokesman for Mr. Uribe denounced the findings in the 13-year-old report, by the Defense Intelligence Agency, on Colombia's biggest drug traffickers as "the same information" presented in a smear campaign by political opponents in the 2002 presidential election. Senior American intelligence officials and diplomats cautioned that such reports might not be accurate. However, the statement issued by the spokesman for the president did not directly address the report's most damaging assertion: that Mr. Uribe was linked to the top drug kingpin of the era, Pablo Escobar.

The report, dated Sept. 23, 1991, and obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the National Security Archives, a private, nonpartisan research group based in Washington, says Mr. Uribe, then a senator from the northern state of Antioquia, was "dedicated to collaboration with the Medellín cartel at high government levels."

The report, which the archives is making public on Monday, calls Mr. Uribe a "close personal friend" of the cartel's leader, Mr. Escobar, and says Mr. Uribe took part in the drug lord's successful efforts to secure a seat as an auxiliary congressman. It said Mr. Uribe was linked to an unidentified business involved in narcotics in the United States, that as a senator he opposed extraditing traffickers to the United States and that his father, Alberto Uribe, was killed because of his drug ties.

In response to inquiries by The New York Times, Ricardo Galán, a spokesman for Mr. Uribe, issued an eight-point response on Friday that said the Defense Intelligence Agency report was of a preliminary nature. The statement said that in 1991 Mr. Uribe was studying at Harvard and that he had never had business dealings in the United States.

The statement also said Mr. Uribe's father was killed resisting Marxist rebels who were trying to kidnap him. It affirmed Mr. Uribe's commitment to extradition, though it only loosely explained then-Senator Uribe's opposition to a proposed referendum on extradition. It did not address the report's allegation that Mr. Uribe took part in the campaign that propelled Mr. Escobar to Congress.

Robert Zimmerman, a State Department spokesman, was more emphatic in denying the report's findings. "We completely disavow these allegations about President Uribe," he said, adding, "We have no credible information that substantiates or corroborates the allegations in an unevaluated 1991 report."

Still, the report is sure to raise new questions about allegations made in 2001 and 2002, when Mr. Uribe was campaigning for the presidency, about possible ties to drug dealers, including the powerful Ochoa clan in Medellín, Colombia's drug-trafficking center. Solid evidence was never presented, though, and Mr. Uribe won in a landslide based on his pledge that he would fight Marxist rebels and drug traffickers.

The United States has strongly supported Mr. Uribe since then, and he is considered among the Bush administration's closest allies in its effort to curb drug trafficking.

During his two years in office, much of Colombia's vast drug fields have been eradicated in defoliation efforts financed by Washington. About 150 Colombians accused of drug trafficking have been extradited to the United States, more than double the number extradited by Mr. Uribe's predecessor during his four-year term.

Senior diplomats and intelligence officials involved in the drug war in Colombia at the time cautioned against drawing conclusions from the report, noting that such documents were routinely produced with little vetting or oversight.

But Michael L. Evans, the director of the Colombia documentation project of the National Security Archive, said the report provided strong evidence of Mr. Uribe's involvement in the drug trade. "We now know that the D.I.A., either through its own reporting or through liaison with another investigative agency, had information indicating that Álvaro Uribe was one of Colombia's top drug-trafficking figures," he said, though it was unclear what other agency might be involved.

He said the document's summary categorically stated that the report provided "information on the more important Colombian narco-traffickers."

The report says information on some of the people cited in it has been crosschecked with other agencies, though it is not clear if Mr. Uribe was among those whose alleged involvement was carefully traced by another agency. It was sent to Washington with a corresponding list of photographs, indicating its possible use for investigative purposes.

"All indications are this is not your run-of-the-mill field report," Mr. Evans said. "I don't think it's a smoking gun. It's a document that the Defense Intelligence Agency had, and they took it seriously enough to forward to Washington with minimal, if any, caveats at the time."

The intelligence document lists 104 drug traffickers and associates, including lawyers, right-wing paramilitary fighters, a Peruvian rebel commander and a Colombian singer. A summary detailing each subject's ties to the drug trade follows.

Among those on the list are Mr. Escobar; Manuel Noriega, the former president of Panama now jailed in Miami on drug-trafficking charges and Adnan Khashoggi, an arms dealer.

Past questions raised about Mr. Uribe included allegations that he was friendly with the Ochoa family, which had been involved in trafficking cocaine with Mr. Escobar before he was killed by the Colombian police in 1993. Mr. Uribe was also accused of having granted, when he was head of the civil aviation authority, permits to pilots who were accused of transporting cocaine. From 1995 to 1997, when he was governor of Antioquia, drug-running paramilitary groups multiplied in that state.

Mr. Uribe has steadfastly denied the accusations. Furthermore, it is not unusual for politicians, celebrities or industrialists in Colombia, long plagued by drugs, to be acquainted with drug dealers. Mr. Uribe, for instance, says he knew the Ochoas only because of their common interest in Colombia's paso fino horses. Ernesto Samper, Colombia's president from 1994 to 1998, was accused of taking money from traffickers and subsequently was denied a visa to travel to the United States.

"It's not implausible, because the milieu in the 1980's was very much dominated by the drug trade and Pablo Escobar was such a dominant figure," said Michael Shifter, a senior analyst at Washington's Inter-American Dialogue, a policy group that closely tracks Colombia. "Regrettably, it wouldn't be so surprising for there to be some contacts between anyone who was an aspiring political figure and Pablo Escobar."

Morris Busby, who became the American ambassador shortly after the report was written and said he did not remember it, cautioned that some of the reports collected by intelligence agencies came to questionable conclusions.

He and other diplomats and intelligence officers, told about the report, noted that its labeling as "not finally evaluated" and indicated that its author relied on raw information that had not been confirmed.

"What it means is, we're telling you everything we're hearing," said Busby, now retired. "It's not evaluated in that it's been bounced against other things they had."

William Naughton, who was the Defense Intelligence Agency's officer for Latin America at the time, said the info in the report "may contain reliable information or not."

"It's not something you'd necessarily go to court on," he said.

Bernard Aronson, a former assistant secretary of state for Latin America who closely supervised the American war on drugs in Colombia in the 1990's, said intelligence reports on drug trafficking were sometimes influenced by rivalries for financing and prestige among the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Drug Enforcement Administration and others heavily involved in Colombia.

"These people tend to be brave people, but they're a special breed," Mr. Aronson said of those who work for such agencies. "They are sometimes cowboys and they are not always known for their analytical prowess."

U.S. Intelligence Tied Colombia's Uribe to Drug Trade in '91 Report

Published by the Los Angeles Times, 8/2/04

By T. Christian Miller, Times Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, one of the Bush administration's most steadfast allies in South America, was allegedly a "close personal friend" of slain drug lord Pablo Escobar and worked for his Medellin cartel, according to a newly released U.S. military intelligence report.

The 1991 report by the Defense Intelligence Agency describes Uribe, then a rising star in Colombian politics, as "dedicated to collaboration" with the Medellin cartel, at the time the world's richest criminal organization and the source of most of the cocaine imported into the U.S.
The memo devotes a single paragraph to Uribe and his alleged narcotics involvement, listing him 82nd among 104 of the "more important Colombian narco-traffickers."

The allegations about Uribe, who was elected president in 2002, were strongly repudiated by the Colombian government, the State Department and the Pentagon.

All three described the memo, released to a nonprofit research group under a public records request, as uncorroborated information contradicted by Uribe's strong support for efforts to wipe out cocaine in Colombia and extradite drug suspects to the United States.

Under Uribe, Colombia's production of coca, the source of cocaine, has dropped by more than 50% through intense, U.S.-funded fumigation efforts, and more than 160 suspected drug traffickers have been indicted, U.S. defense officials said.

"We completely disavow these allegations against President Uribe," said Robert Zimmerman, a spokesman for the State Department's Western Hemisphere Affairs Bureau, which monitors Colombia. "We have no credible information that substantiates or corroborates the allegations."

News of the memo comes at a delicate time for Uribe, who is negotiating a peace deal with right-wing paramilitaries involved in drug dealing and is seeking a constitutional amendment to allow him to run for a second term in office.

The memo, which was made public today, appeared likely to resuscitate rumors about Uribe's controversial past, including his alleged connections with the drug trade. It also feeds perceptions of pervasive drug corruption in Colombia, which nearly felled former President Ernesto Samper in the 1990s, when it was discovered that his presidential campaign had received drug money.

"This is a very hard blow," said Daniel Garcia-Peña, a former Colombian government peace negotiator and left-leaning political analyst. "Being an official report from a U.S. agency, this is going to reopen a chapter that Uribe thought he'd closed. It's grave, grave."

Uribe isn't the only popular figure listed in the memo. No. 89 is Carlos Vives, then an aspiring actor and now a Grammy-winning pop star. The memo describes Vives as being "involved in narcotics trafficking" and said he worked closely with an uncle who was a trafficker in the Medellin cartel.

Vives, who has lived in Miami since the early 1990s, could not be reached for comment Sunday. Sources said he was a favorite performer of traffickers from his coastal region of Santa Marta, who would invite him to perform at their parties. The same sources said they doubted that Vives was directly involved in trafficking.

Pentagon and State Department officials took pains to deny the validity of the information in the document, which was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the National Security Archives, a nonprofit research group in Washington.

A Pentagon spokesman said the memo consisted of unconfirmed allegations and did not represent an official position of the Department of Defense. The spokesman said he knew of no other intelligence reports linking Uribe to the narcotics business.

"It's not a smoking gun. The reliability and validity of this raw data is very suspect, to say the least," said Army Lt. Col. Chris Conway, a Pentagon spokesman.

One U.S. intelligence official said that the memo, produced shortly after President George H. W. Bush ordered the military to begin tracking drug trafficking more closely, was based on a single confidential informant in Colombia.

The official noted that such information is typically passed on unedited to military intelligence analysts in Washington to avoid misinterpretation of the raw data.

This explanation is backed up by the presence of several errors in the report. One drug trafficker is listed as Fidel Castro with an alias of "Rambo" — an apparent mix-up with Fidel Castaño, a legendary onetime assassin and paramilitary fighter who went by that moniker.

"The one thing you don't want to do is sanitize the information in a report like this," the intelligence official said. "You want to keep it [as] close to raw intelligence as you can."

Colombian government officials denied that Uribe had dealings with the drug trade. They said the charges were similar to attacks Uribe faced during his 2002 presidential campaign and questioned whether the source for the document had political motives.

They pointed out factual errors in the document, which said Uribe had "attacked all forms" of an extradition treaty with the U.S. that Escobar had opposed. Uribe supported the treaty, they said, though he suggested postponing a vote to avoid pressure from drug lords.

They also noted that Uribe was studying at Harvard University in 1991 and questioned why the U.S. Embassy would issue a visa to someone suspected of having drug connections.

"The document shows that it is about information that was not evaluated," said a statement issued by Uribe's press office.

Nonetheless, Colombia experts said the document revived questions about Uribe's background.

Human rights groups have frequently alleged that the hard-charging politician had ties to right-wing paramilitary groups, and rumors have surfaced about purported drug links.

"We do know that DIA believed the document was serious and important enough to pass on to intelligence analysts in Washington," said Michael Evans, director of the Colombia Documentation Project for the National Security Archives.

But skeptics of Uribe were careful about the document's assertions about drug links. Uribe has based his political career on his reputation for honesty and his fight against corruption.

"It's not entirely unbelievable, but you need to put it in context, and you need a lot more specifics," said Adam Isacson, an expert on Colombia with the left-leaning Center for International Policy. "Was he turning a blind eye [to drug dealing], or was he actually part of the circle?"

The context goes back to the 1980s, when Pablo Escobar had turned a small drug-running operation into a criminal empire centered in Medellin, where Uribe was appointed mayor in 1982.

Uribe has long acknowledged that his youth and career in Medellin brought him into contact with drug world figures. A horse lover and cattle rancher, Uribe grew up competing in dressage events with the Ochoa clan, who would later become close allies of Escobar.

Cocaine money was omnipresent in Medellin at the time and Escobar was seen as a Robin Hood type who built houses and soccer fields for the poor. He paid off some politicians, killed others and had himself elected as a substitute representative to the national assembly.

The memo suggests that Uribe's links to Escobar date at least from that period. It says Uribe "participated" in Escobar's political campaign to win the seat.

The memo also said Uribe had links to an unnamed business tied to narcotics activities in the U.S. and that Uribe's father was killed for ties to drug lords. Uribe's father was killed by rebels with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in 1983. Colombian military officials have long described the incident as a botched kidnapping attempt.

Although several Colombian and U.S. officials said it was possible that Uribe knew Escobar or ignored signs of drug trafficking, they discounted the idea that he played an important role in the operations.

Thomas E. McNamara, the U.S. ambassador to Colombia until a few months before the memo was written, said Uribe "never came up on my screen."

"If everything said in that short paragraph were true, those of us in the embassy working the issue hard would have had him in our scopes," said McNamara, now a counterterrorism consultant to the State Department. "He wasn't."

Whatever its validity, the document is likely to play a role in Colombia's politics. Uribe has drawn a host of critics despite his popularity for curtailing rebel attacks and kidnappings.

The publication of the document comes as criticism of the talks with paramilitaries is increasing. The U.S. has faulted Uribe's negotiators for being overly forgiving of the rightists, who are suspected of killing thousands of peasants. And Colombians are demanding results, since as many as 400 people have been killed or kidnapped by paramilitaries since the talks began.

Military analyst Alfredo Rangel predicted that the president would emerge with his credibility intact.

"Since he's been the object of so many accusations that haven't taken root, the public will see this as a rehashing of old accusations," Rangel said. "The public won't trust the substance of these accusations, and it will give him an opportunity to show they aren't true."

Special correspondent Ruth Morris in Bogota contributed to this report.

This article was originally published by the sources above and is copyrighted by the sources above. We offer it here as an educational tool to increase understanding of global economics and social justice issues. We believe this is 'fair use' of copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. AMERICAS.ORG is a nonprofit Web site with the goal of educating and informing.

Posted on Mon, Aug. 02, 2004


U.S. Defends Uribe Over Alleged Drug Ties


Associated Press

BOGOTA, Colombia - The United States rushed to the defense of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Monday after a recently declassified 1991 U.S. military intelligence report linked him to powerful drug traffickers more than a decade ago.

Both the State Department and the Pentagon delivered unusually strong statements in support of Uribe, who is a strong ally of Washington in the war on drugs.

"We completely disavow the allegations about Uribe. It's not credible information," State Department spokesman Robert Zimmerman said Monday, noting that Uribe has a record of strong opposition to drug trafficking.

"No conclusions can be drawn from it," said Lt. Col. Chris Conway, a Pentago spokesman, who said the report was raw, uncorroborated information from a single source.

The document was prepared by the Defense Intelligence Agency 13 years ago, when Uribe was a Colombian senator. It was released Monday by the National Security Archive, a private research group based in Washington that used the U.S. Freedom of Information Act to make the document public.

The report placed Uribe as No. 82 on a list of 104 "important Colombian drug traffickers." It stated that Uribe had close ties to the powerful Medellin cartel, whose leader was former drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.

"Uribe has worked for the Medellin cartel and is a close personal friend of Pablo Escobar," states the 14-page document, in which Uribe is mentioned in just one paragraph.

Luis Alberto Moreno, Colombia's ambassador to the United States, told local radio Monday that the report was a rough draft document prepared by lower-level officials. He said it was never fully evaluated by higher officials in the U.S. Defense Department.

"Uribe's record on drug trafficking speaks for itself," Moreno said.

Indeed, Uribe has been committed to reducing drug trafficking since he took office in August 2002. Uribe has worked closely with Washington on an aerial eradication program in which U.S.-funded airplanes fly over drug fields and spray them with weed killer.

He also has authorized the extradition of more than 170 suspects to various countries, mainly for drug trafficking.

Uribe denied similar accusations of drug ties during his election campaign two years ago. Voters took little notice of the charges and elected him in a landslide victory.

Today, few politicians in Colombia, where most of the world's cocaine is produced, have links to the drug underworld. But observers note that many of them have some form of drug ties in their past.

Most Colombians are pleased with Uribe's hard-line stance against leftist guerrillas who have been fighting the government for four decades.

Uribe's office disputed other accusations in the 1991 document as well.

The U.S. document claims Uribe's father was killed because of his son's links to drug traffickers, but the president's office says he was killed while resisting a kidnapping attempt.



DEA Chief Robert Bonner said CIA Smuggled Drugs

L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."—Senator John Kerry (1996)

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. -1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, CIA Headquarters
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Cele Castillo on patrol in Vietnam, 1971 Felix Rodriguez' deputy at the U.S. Milgroup in Illopango, CORU assassin Luis Posada Carriles, was the terminal chief that sent Eugene Hasenfus off on his ill-fated October 1986 flight. Gustavo Villoldo, who was with Rodriguez at the Bay of Pigs and hunting Ché in Bolivia, functioned as a "combat advisor" to the Contras under writtten orders from Bush aide Gregg. He helped Rodriguez and Posada turn Illopango into a major drug port, according to Celerino Castillo, the DEA's senior Country Attaché to Guatemala and El Salvador from 1985 to 1990. It was Castillo who had developed much of the DEA evidence used by Senator Kerry.

Castillo was a heavily decorated Vietnam combat veteran who had recently commanded very dangerous DEA operations in New York, Peru and Guatemala. In New York, in the early 80’s, the bilingual street wise Tex-Mex demonstrated the nerve and talent to go after major dealers, producing bust after major bust. Castillo’s biggest bust, of an extensive Sicilian heroin importing and distribution operation, actually depended on his ability to translate the Spanish Pig-Latin of the ring’s warehouse manager.

This caused Castillo to find himself, in 1984, as the only Spanish-speaking DEA agent in Peru. That, of course, is an indication of the suicidal racism endemic in law enforcement culture, as Castillo was painfully aware.

His continuing record of major busts found Castillo in tactical charge of Operation Condor, coordinating DEA, CIA and Peruvian military elements. He made the largest coke bust in Peruvian history, a cocaine manufacturing and distribution compound that housed more than 600 people:

“The South American newspapers published multi-page articles on the raid, repeating the numbers: Four tons of coca paste seized from a lab capable of churning out 500 kilos of pure cocaine every day. The Peruvian government estimated the compound’s value at $500 million. It was the biggest cocaine lab capture in South American history.... We later discovered that the lab belonged to Arcesio and Omar Ricco, members of the Cali cartel.”

The undiplomatic Castillo insisted on pointing the finger directly at the covert elements within the Peruvian command structure responsible for protecting this and other jungle refineries. This caused Castillo's transfer to Guatemala.

Castillo in front of his major Operation Condor tool, a chopper; Castillo

"In October of 1985, upon my arrival in Guatemala, I was forewarned by Guatemala DEA, Country Attaché, Robert J. Stia, that the DEA had received intelligence that the Contras out of Salvador, were involved in drug trafficking. For the first time, I had come face to face with the contradictions of my assignment. The reason that I had been forewarned was because I would be the Lead Agent in El Salvador."

Col. James Steele, commander of the U. S. Military Group at Ilopango, arranged for Castillo to co-train elite drug squads for Salvadoran military intelligence. Their Salvadoran trainer was Dr. Hector Antonio Regalado, D'Aubuisson's top aide. "August 03, 1986, Ramiro Guerra, Lt. Col. A. Adame, Dr. Hector Regalado (Dr. Death, who claimed to have shot Archbishop Romero) and myself went out on patrol in El Salvador." Regalado combined his training at the School of the Americas in Ft. Benning with his expertise as a dentist to inflict excruciating pain during "interrogation." It was these Nazi skills that he taught to Castillo's "drug" squads.

The situation was the same in neighboring Guatemala: "I participated in numerous joint operations with the CIA and Guatemalan security forces, principally the D-2 (Guatemalan military intelligence...)....The level of CIA and DEA involvement in operations that included torture and murder in Guatemala is much higher than the [6/28/96 Intelligence Oversight Board] report indicates. With US anti-narcotics funding still being funneled to the Guatemalan Military, this situation continues."

Castillo’s evidence photo and note

“Dec. 03, 1988, DEA seized 356 kilos of cocaine in Tiquisate, Guatemala (DEA #TG-89-0002; Hector Sanchez). Several Colombians were murdered on said operation and condoned by the DEA and CIA. I have pictures of individuals that were murdered in said case. The target was on Gregorio Valdez (CIA asset) of the Guatemalan Piper Co. At that time, all air operations for the CIA and DEA flew out of Piper.”

Castillo’s photos of the murdered pilots

“With every killing, G2 took stacks of cash and bags of cocaine. In a faint nod to the law, they usually turned over a portion of the confiscated dope to beef up the country’s drug war numbers. they sold the rest, or saved it to frame future victims.”

One of the dead pilots, drowned in a bucket of water; Castillo's note

"The CIA, with knowledge of ambassadors and the State Department and National Security Council officials, as well as Congress, continued this aid after the termination of overt military assistance in 1990....Several contract pilots for the DEA and CIA worked out of [the Guatemala] Piper [Company in Guatemala City] and most were documented narcotic traffickers."

Castillo realized he couldn't control the situation at all. He was simply being used for his logistical clout. The Salvadoran and Guatemalan militaries controlled the actual busts, which were politicized, and from which the coke almost always found its way into the hands of military intelligence, which resold it, by the ton. These butchers were, in fact, the dealers. Castillo's stomach turned. "I realized how hopelessly tangled DEA, the CIA, and every other U.S. entity had become with the criminals."

"The CIA and Guatemalan army also label as communist sympathizers anyone who opposes the traditional oppressive role of the Guatemalan military. Therefore, they label as communists or communist sympathizers, priests and nuns who work to elevate the position of the poor in society, union organizers...indigenous leaders (the Indians are kept down so that they can be used as cheap laborers by the rich, who are supported by the military) and student activists....The CIA supports the intimidation, kidnapping and torture, surveillance and murder of these people."

"As an example, look at the case of Dianna Ortiz, the American nun who was working with poor children and was kidnapped, raped and tortured by Guatemalan soldiers....I was present at the US Embassy in Guatemala, when, just after the incident, several members of the DEA, State Department and CIA jokingly asked me if Dianna Ortiz had been good at sex. The reason they were teasing me was that she had said that an American Hispanic with possible ties to the US Embassy had been present during her torture and rape. Since everyone at the Embassy knew that I worked with the Guatemalan Military's D-2, and Sister Ortiz reported that soldiers had captured her, the people at the Embassy assumed that I was the American involved. (She was later shown photos of me and stated that I was not the person she had seen there, referred to by the soldiers as their boss.) I believe the reason that these DEA, State Department and CIA personnel would joke about such a thing is that they label Dianna Ortiz as a communist sympathizer. People with that mind set do not believe that she should be protected."

Castillo investigated Col. Julio Alpirez, who ordered the 1993 murder of captured guerrilla leader Efraín Bámaca, Jennifer Harbury's husband. Michael Devine, an American innkeeper, was also murdered by Alpirez. "He was killed in June 1990, murdered by Guatemalan soldiers, according to the IOB report. What the report does not mention, however, is that Colonel Alpirez was the director of the notorious Archivos while he was also a CIA asset and that he hadpreviously been reported to the DEA for drug trafficking. This is documented in DEA General file number GFTG-88-9077 with filename "Corrupt Official" dated June 09, 1988. I was the agent who initiated the file."

"Colonel Alpirez is also documented as a narcotics trafficker in DEA case file number TG-88-0009 entitled"Moreno-Campos, Aparicio", dated August 25, 1988 and submitted by me. In both case files, Alpirez is named along with his subordinate, Carlos Rene Perez-Alvarez, who was known as Won Ton of La Mano Blanca (the White Hand of the death squads). Carlos Rene Perez-Alvarez operated "la panel blanca" (the White Van)that has patrolled the streets of Guatemala for so many years, kidnapping and murdering people for the death squads."

"On page A-3, the report refers to a personality profile on DeVine that was 'generally positive, but noted a somewhat aggressive manner and a readiness to denounce people involved in narcotics trafficking.' The latter comment is, in my view, a key to thereason that he was killed. The connections of DeVine to Alpirez, Alpirez to the CIA, the CIA to the D-2 and the D-2 to the murderof DeVine can all be found in the IOB report, supporting what I was told about the case."

"Here is what I believe to be the truth about the DeVine case, according to my sources. 1. Colonel Alpirez was trafficking drugs. (see DEA case filenumber GFTG-88-9077 and number TG-88-0009). 2. Colonel Alpirez was a CIA asset (according to the IOB reportand numerous other sources). 3. DeVine gained knowledge of Alpirez's drug trafficking activities while Alpirez was training Kaibil forces in the Petenclose to his farm. 4. DeVine reported Alpirez's drug trafficking activities to the US Embassy in Guatemala. 5. After DeVine reported Alpirez to the US Embassy, RandyCapister, a CIA agent operating out of the embassy, contacted Colonel Francis (Paco) Ortega, former head of the D-2, and a CIAand DEA asset. He told Ortega that DeVine had reported ColonelAlpirez (another CIAasset) for drug trafficking. (per phoneconversation between myself and Randy Capister after the death of DeVine in 1990). 6. Colonel Ortega contacted the new head of the D-2, Colonel Cesar Cabrera, who had been under Ortega's command earlier (WhenColonel Ortega was head of the D-2, Cabrera was a lieutenant colonel and Ortega’s second in command). 7. Cabrera, chief of the D-2 ordered the so-called"interrogation" of DeVine and was therefore 'indirectlyresponsible for DeVine’s death' (See IOB report page A-3). (This "interrogation" included a machete blow that almost completely severed DeVine's head from his body.)" (All parentheses Castillo's)

It was Alpirez' protected drug plantations and dealing structure, two years after the murder of DeVine, that Efraín Bámaca, Commandante Everardo, threatened to expose. Although Castillo could shed professional DEA light on CIA complicity in the drug dealing of its ally, Guatemalan D-2, Walsh couldn't "declassify" Castillo's testimony, or save his career. Castillo's book, Powderburns, is essential reading for anyone after a realistic assessment of the Drug War.

Jennifer Harbury on hunger strike in front of the Guatemalan National Palace, October, 1994, with a picture of her murdered husband, Efraín Bámaca Velasquez

Although Iran-Contra Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh interviewed Castillo extensively, not one word of his verifiable, professional testimony, backed up by DEA case file and NADDIS numbers, could be found in Walsh's voluminous 1993 Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Contra Matters. Walsh had no choice - Castillo's testimony had been "classified." Likewise the remarkable testimony of CIA agent Brenneke, elicited by Congressman Alexander. Explained Walsh, "In addition to the unclassified Volumes I and II of this report, a brief classified report, Volume III, has been filed with the Special Division. The classified report contains references to material gathered in the investigation of Iran/contra that could not be declassified and could not be concealed by some substitute form of discussion." Later on in the report, referring to dope-dealing CIA Costa Rica station chief Joe Fernandez, Walsh complained that "We've created a class of intelligence officer who cannot be prosecuted."

"The main target of that case was a Guatemalan Congressman, (Carlos Ramiro Garcia de Paz) who took delivery of 2,404 kilos of cocaine in Guatemala just before the interrogation. This case directly implicated the Guatemalan Government in drug trafficking (The Guatemalan Congressman still has his US visa and continues to travel at his pleasure into the US). To add salt to the wound, in 1989 these murders were investigated by the U.S Department of Justice, Office of Professional Responsibility. DEA S/I Tony Recevuto determined that the Guatemalan Military Intelligence, G-2 (the worst human rights violators in the Western Hemisphere) was responsible for these murders. Yet, the U.S. government continued to order U.S. agents to work hand-in-hand with the Guatemalan Military. This information was never turned over to the I.O.B. investigation."

The murdered Jairo Gilardo-Ocampo, José Ramón and Maria Parra-Iniguez

"I have obtained a letter, dated May 28, 1996, from the DEA administrator, to U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D), Texas. In this letter, the administrator flatly lies, stating that DEA agents 'have never engaged in any joint narcotics programs with the Guatemalan Military.' I was there. I was the leading Agent in Guatemala. 99.9% of DEA operations were conducted with the Guatemalan military."

DEA agents Von Briesen and Castillo with a machine gun toting Guatemalan G-2 agent in the background; Castillo’s note

The Office of Professional Responsibility actually used false testimony from Castillo's would-be Guatemalan assassin, Col. Moran, to force Castillo's premature retirement. Felix Rodriguez, on the other hand, was full of medals from Salvadoran generals and Col. James Steele.


Welcome to the official website of retired DEA Agent Celerino "Cele" Castillo III.                 Cele Castillo served for 12 years in the Drug Enforcement Administration where he built cases against                 organized drug rings in Manhattan, raided jungle cocaine labs in the amazon, conducted aerial eradication                 operations in Guatemala, and assembled and trained anti-narcotics units in several countries.

                The eerie climax of agent Castillo's career with the DEA took place in El Salvador. One day, he received a                 cable from a fellow agent. He was told to investigate possible drug smuggling by Nicaraguan Contras operating                 from the Ilopango Air Force Base.

Castillo quickly discovered that the Contra pilots were, indeed,                 smuggling narcotics back into the United States - using the same pilots, planes and hangers that the Central                 Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council, under the direction of Lt. Col. Oliver North, used to                 maintain their covert supply operation to the Contras.







Cele Castillo in Vietnam



DEA Agent Cele Castillo in Guatemala



Cele Castillo with Vice President George H.W. Bush in Guatemala (1986)



Cele Castillo with President Carter in Peru (1984)



Cele With Peruvian Army Generals



Operation Condor in Peru and Volcano in Guatemala



Cele With Fellow DEA Agents



Cele at Cocaine Bust in Guatemala



Cele having lunch in Vietnam



Russ Reina, Bob Stia and Cele Castillo



Cele In Vietnam



Randy Capister, his wife and Cele



Cele in training at DEA Academy



Cele paying his repects at Vietnam War Memorial



Fellow Army Buddies In Vietnam



Cocaine evidence


DEA Chief Robert Bonner said CIA Smuggled Drugs

L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."—Senator John Kerry (1996)

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. -1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, CIA Headquarters
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Slip Opinions Home Page | Keyword | Case | Docket | Date: Filed / Added |    Download WordPerfect version (18737 bytes)     Download RTF version (13509 bytes)






EDWIN CORR, Individually and in his official capacity as Ambassador to El Salvador; CELERINO CASTILLO, III, Individually, and in his capacity as a Special Agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration,


No. 99-6259

(D.C. No. CIV-98-1246-W)

(Western District of Oklahoma)


Before BALDOCK and McWILLIAMS, Circuit Judges, and SHADUR, District Judge.(**)

In a 23-page complaint filed on September 9, 1998, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, Walter Lee Grasheim ("Grasheim") brought suit against the United States of America, four of its governmental agencies, eleven named individuals and six John Does. Two of the named individual defendants were Edwin Corr ("Corr"), the ambassador to El Salvador when the events which formed the basis for the complaint occurred, and Celerino Castillo, III ("Castillo"), a special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration assigned to El Salvador at the time of the underlying events. In this appeal we are only concerned with Corr and Castillo, who, collectively, will hereinafter be referred to as "the Defendants."

In his complaint Grasheim, who apparently was a United States citizen, alleged that from 1984 through September 1, 1986, he was residing in and doing business in El Salvador and, at the same time, was under contract with the Department of Defense to provide equipment in the form of night vision equipment and expertise as well as training the Salvadoran Armed Forces. He further alleged that, when he was temporarily in the United States, the Defendants unlawfully conspired with themselves and others to have the local Salvadoran authorities raid his residence in El Salvador, ostensibly for drugs, which they did on September 1, 1986. In that search, in which no drugs were apparently found, Grasheim alleged that numerous of his personal effects were illegally seized. Based thereon, Grasheim asserted a Bivens claim under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) and a RICO claim under 18 U.S.C. § 1964, et seq., against Defendants and others. Grasheim then went on to allege that after September 1, 1986, the Defendants "fraudulently concealed" their participation in the raid, tolling any statute of limitations, and that he didn't become aware of the true facts until "late 1996" when he learned that Castillo had published a book wherein he admitted "orchestrating" the raid. Grasheim sought actual damages in the amount of $2,500,000.00, treble damages for his RICO claim and punitive damages in excess of $1,000,000.00.

Corr and Castillo filed motions to dismiss or, alternatively, for summary judgment based on the applicable statutes of limitations. (It is agreed that the Bivens claim has a

two year statute of limitations and the RICO claim a four year statute.) At the hearing on Corr's and Castillo's motions to dismiss, matters were relied on which were outside the pleadings, whereupon the district court elected to treat the motion to dismiss as a motion for summary judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56, and allowed the parties time within which to file "all material" pertinent to a Rule 56 motion.(1) On June 21, 1999, after argument, the district court granted summary judgment for both Corr and Castillo, holding that both the Bivens claim and the RICO claim were time barred. In so holding, the district court concluded that on the record before it, "Grasheim knew, or should have known, at least by 1990 the critical facts giving rise to his causes of action." The district court further stated that "because Grasheim was aware of sufficient facts at least by 1990 to pursue his lawsuit, the court finds no grounds to support Grasheim's argument that the limitation periods should be equitably tolled until 1996." Grasheim appeals the judgment thus entered.

As stated, the district court concluded that on the record before it Grasheim either knew or should have known "at least by 1990 the critical facts giving rise to his causes of action," which would mean that the complaint, filed in 1998, was well beyond both the two year and four year statutes of limitations. On appeal, Grasheim's position is that he didn't really know of any cause of action he might have against Corr and Castillo until late 1996, when he learned of Castillo's book implicating Castillo, Corr, and others in the unlawful raid of Grasheim's home in El Salvador, which, if correct, would mean that the complaint, filed in 1998, would be within the two year and four year statutes of limitations. The Defendants argue that the district court's determination that Grasheim "knew or should have known" by 1990 is amply supported by the record, and suggest that actually Grasheim "knew or should have known" as early as the fall of 1986.

For purpose of a statute of limitations, a cause of action accrues when the plaintiff knows or has reason to know of the injury which is the basis for the action and its cause. Baker v. Board of Regents, 991 F.2d 628, 632 (10th Cir. 1993); Arvayo v. United States, 766 F.2d 1416, 1419 (10th Cir. 1985). We reject any suggestion that a plaintiff must "conclusively" know of the injury and its cause before a statute of limitations is triggered. Chasteen v. Unisia Jecs Corp., 216 F.3d 1212, 1218 (10th Cir. 2000); Baker, 991 F.2d at 632. Our study of the record convinces us that the district court did not err in holding that Grasheim knew or should have known at least by 1990 the "critical facts," and, indeed, such is amply supported by the record. Events occurring between 1986 and 1990, which are enumerated by the district court in its order, support its determination that Grasheim's claims are time barred and preclude him from asserting claims made some 12 years after the fact.(2)

Judgment affirmed.


Robert H. McWilliams

Circuit Judge

Click footnote number to return to corresponding location in the text.

*. This order and judgment is not binding precedent, except under the doctrines of law of the case, res judicata, and collateral estoppel. The court generally disfavors the citation of orders and judgments; nevertheless, an order and judgment may be cited under the terms and conditions of 10th Cir. R. 36.3

**. Honorable Milton I. Shadur, District Judge, United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, sitting by designation.

1.On motion, the district court first dismissed Grasheim's claim against the United States and the agency defendants. Individual defendants severally filed motions to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b), alleging, inter alia, that Grasheim's claims were time barred. Grasheim filed a response to those motions. The district court granted those motions for all individual defendants except Corr and Castillo. At the same time, the district court noted that since Corr and Castillo had presented matters outside the pleadings, it would treat their motions to dismiss as motions for summary judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. As indicated, we are here only concerned with Corr and Castillo.

2.In addition to the matter mentioned by the district court in its order, we also note that on December 13, 1990, Grasheim, when interviewed by an FBI agent, stated, inter alia, that he had learned that a few days before the September 1, 1986, raid on his house, Castillo and others met with Corr and discussed raiding his house for drugs and that he (Grasheim) believed that the drug charge was "totally trumped up to get him out of the picture for some unknown reason." To counter this and other evidence tending to show "knowledge" by at least 1990, Grasheim by affidavit suggested that he was only "bluffing" in an effort to establish the true facts.



DEA Chief Robert Bonner said CIA Smuggled Drugs

L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."—Senator John Kerry (1996)

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. -1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, CIA Headquarters
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CIA Gave $10 Million to Peru's Ex-Spymaster


                                By                 Angel Paez,                 The Public i. Posted July 3, 2001.

Vladimiro Montesinos, who now faces trial on murder, arms and drug trafficking charges, used millions of CIA dollars to, among other things, send guns to Colombia's FARC guerrillas.         Tools
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The Central Intelligence Agency gave ex-Peruvian spymaster Vladimiro Montesinos at least $10 million in cash over the last decade, as well as high-tech surveillance equipment that he used against his political opponents, the Center for Public Integrity has learned.

Montesinos, who now faces trial on murder, arms and drug trafficking charges, among others, had founded and personally controlled a counter-drug unit within Peru's National Intelligence Service, known by its Spanish acronym SIN.

It was to that Narcotics Intelligence Division, known as DIN, that the CIA directed at least $10 million in cash payments from 1990 until September 2000, U.S. officials told the Center's International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Most of the money was to have financed intelligence activities in the drug war, though officials acknowledged a small part was for antiterrorist activities.

The CIA knew the money was going directly to Montesinos and had receipts for the payments, the sources said. "It was an agency-to-agency relationship," said one U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity in Lima, the capital, "with Vladimiro Montesinos as the intermediary.... Montesinos had the money under his control."

The new information on Montesinos is part of an extensive soon-to-be-released report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) on U.S. aid to Latin America. The material on Montesinos is based on multiple interviews with U.S. and Peruvian officials.

A CIA spokesman in Washington refused to confirm or deny that the agency had helped fund DIN, and that part of those funds went into Montesino's pockets.

However, an intelligence official who asked not to be further identified confirmed that Montesinos had pocketed some, but not most, of the funds. He said that the CIA had been fully aware that Montesino was involved in corrupt deals and that the CIA had briefed the National Security Council, State Department and Pentagon about the alleged corruption. He said the agencies directed the CIA to continue to work with Montesinos because he was Peru's designated chief of counternarcotics and the only game in town.

Montesinos disappeared in October as the regime of Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori collapsed under wide-ranging corruption allegations and was seized in Venezuela on Saturday night, June 23. Montesinos was returned to Peru on June 25 to face an array of government charges.

U.S. Shrugged Off Reports

Over the years, the United States accumulated plenty of evidence of corruption, human rights abuses and other anti-democratic actions by Montesinos, but it shrugged off the reports because Montesinos -- the unofficial head of the National Intelligence Service -- was a CIA asset deemed key to Washington's drug war in the Andes.

But the final blow appeared to be Montesinos double-dealing in Colombia. In what is surely among the most embarrassing turns in post-Cold War U.S. foreign policy, Montesinos used his CIA-backed position of influence to get rich and to betray his benefactors. He arranged an arms deal that sent at least 10,000 AK-47 assault rifles from Jordan to Colombia's leftist FARC guerrillas, collectively public enemy number one in the U.S. war on drugs in Latin America and the main target of Washington's $1.3 billion counternarcotics aid package to Colombia.

Montesinos had long been fingered as corrupted by drug money, although many of the earlier claims that surfaced came from arrested drug dealers. But by 1997, the State Department began to document Montesinos' questionable activities in its annual human rights reports. The Senate Appropriations Committee noted in 1999 that it had "repeatedly expressed concern about U.S. support for the Peruvian National Intelligence Service" and requested that it "be consulted prior to any decision to provide assistance to the SIN."

Diversion of Funds No Surprise

The CIA suspected that Montesinos was involved in some illegal activities and was not surprised when informed of the diversion of funds, U.S. sources said. It continued doing business with him "because he solved problems, including problems he created himself," one U.S. source told ICIJ.

The U.S. Embassy has provided Peru's anti-corruption prosecutor with detailed information about the CIA's payments to Montesinos in response to the Peruvian government's wide-ranging investigations into Montesinos' malfeasance. The prosecutor, Ana Cecilia Magallanes, has told U.S. officials that she has documents showing the diversion of SIN money, including the CIA payments, toward illegal activities. Sources would not elaborate on what those activities included, but the prosecutor said it did not appear that those monies were diverted into Montesinos' personal accounts.

However, Peruvian prosecutors also allege that Montesinos collaborated with drug traffickers, who paid him and his associates protection money. After 10 years as the power behind Fujimori, Montesinos had at least $264 million deposited in foreign bank accounts in Switzerland, the United States, the Cayman Islands and other nations, Peru's equivalent of attorney general, Nelly Calderon Navarro, announced in June.

According to U.S. embassy officials in Lima interviewed by ICIJ, the SIN's narcotics intelligence unit was funded and assisted by both the CIA and the State Department's Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. The State Department's share included $36,000 in 1996, $150,000 in 1997 and $25,000 in 1998, according to U.S. Embassy officials. In 1999, State withheld aid to the SIN because of congressional anger about reports that Montesinos was using the unit to gather intelligence on the regime's political opponents.

Three separate Peruvian military intelligence sources told ICIJ that surveillance equipment provided by the CIA for use in the drug war was instead used by the SIN to intercept the conversations of opposition political figures, journalists, businessmen and military officers suspected of disloyalty to the Fujimori regime. "Intelligence services" were sold to wealthy individuals, corporations or influential officers. A buyer could pay $1,000 to $2,500 per week to receive intercepts from the tapping of a single phone. Or, the military intelligence sources said, the wealthy buyers could pay spies to gather other information about individuals of their choosing.

Support Began in 1970s

The CIA began supporting Montesinos in the mid-1970s when he, as a middle-ranking Peruvian army officer, came to Washington on an unauthorized visit and handed over documents concerning Soviet arms deals with Peru. When the CIA learned of Montesinos' double-dealing with Colombia's FARC guerrillas, according to U.S. and Peruvian sources, it decided to try to bring him down.

The demise began with the mysterious release of a videotape showing Montesinos paying a $15,000 bribe to an opposition politician in September 2000. Hundreds of videotapes subsequently made public showed Montesinos and his subordinates paying off politicians, businessmen and journalists. Former military officers and civilian officials have since come forward to provide court testimony about the regime's involvement in bribery, arms and drug trafficking, and human rights violations including torture, espionage, extortion of political opponents and harassment of the press.

Peruvian military sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told ICIJ that they believed that the CIA leaked some of the videotapes showing Montesinos' dirty deals.

Fujimori, who was re-elected president in June 2000 and amended the Peruvian constitution in order to retain the office for nearly three presidential terms, fled to Japan, where he resigned from office on Nov. 20, 2000.

Angel Paez is a Peruvian member of the Center for Public Integrity's International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.


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"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."—Senator John Kerry (1996)

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. -1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, CIA Headquarters
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        Sunday, 24 June, 2001, 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK        
Montesinos: The end of the road
                Vladimiro Montesinos
Mr Montesinos was involved in rooting out rebel groups
BBC News Online looks back on the career of Vladimiro Montesinos which climaxed in scandal and intrigue in the Peruvian presidency.

For years Vladimiro Montesinos Torres was the 'eminence gris' in Peru behind the presidency of Alberto Fujimori.

The tragedy for ordinary Peruvians is that they enthusiastically voted for Mr Fujimori in 1989 believing one of his key campaign pledges - to end the country's rampant corruption.


                former president Alberto Fujimori
Fujimori distanced himself from his former ally
Yet throughout the 1990s Vladimiro Montesinos, as head of the intelligence service, was propping up Mr Fujimori by trying to bribe anyone who could be useful to the president.

His arrest in Venezuela has brought to an end a chapter of Peruvian history that began in 1989 with great hope but climaxed last year when Mr Fujimori took refuge in Japan following mounting accusations of government corruption involving Mr Montesinos.

Private lawyer

Mr Montesinos began his career in the Peruvian armed forces in the early 1970s, but in 1977 was thrown out of the army and sentenced to a year in jail.

In the 1980s, he began a fresh career as a private lawyer in the Peruvian capital, Lima.

Among his clients were several people charged with drug-trafficking offences, and others charged with tax evasion and fraud.

He is said to have met Alberto Fujimori when the latter was running for president for the first time in 1989-1990.

Mr Montesinos helped him over various charges of fraud, and is also credited with proving by means of a much-questioned birth certificate that Mr Fujimori had been born in Peru, and not in Japan - which would have excluded him from standing for the presidency.


Following Mr Fujimori's election, Mr Montesinos was put in charge of anti-drug operations carried out in conjunction with the United States.

He was also closely involved in the successful campaign to root out the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) guerrilla movement.

Mr Montesino's power increased after the 1992 when President Fujimori suspended the constitution, closing down congress and the judiciary and taking a stranglehold on all aspects of institutional life in Peru.


                Protesters burn an effigy of Vladimiro Montesinos
Bribery allegations led to protests demanding Mr Montesinos' arrest
It was Mr Montesinos who helped appoint the new members of the armed forces' high command, and supreme court judges.

In 1997 he was Mr Fujimori's close adviser during the hostage crisis at the Japanese ambassador's residence, which ended when all the members of the Tupac Amaru group were killed.

His activities as security adviser to President Fujimori and as secretly-appointed head of the Peruvian intelligence services led to many accusations of human rights abuses against him.

None of these accusations was ever proved.

Direct challenge

As head of the intelligence services, Mr Montesinos was said to be responsible for an extensive network of informers which he used to threaten and blackmail opponents of the president, but again, nothing was ever traced back to him directly.


                Protesters demanding that all the Vladi videos be made public
Protesters demanding that all the Vladi videos be made public
                                                        It appears that it was these shady practices which ultimately brought about his downfall.

According to Peruvian press reports, the video film taken of him allegedly bribing a member of an opposition party to switch his allegiance to Mr Fujimori before elections last year was shot with one of his own hidden cameras.

When the video became public knowledge, President Fujimori was forced not only to distance himself from Mr Montesinos but to announce that he was resigning and calling early elections to find a successor.

Mr Montesinos headed for exile in Panama, where he apparently has business interests.

But a month later, the Panamanian authorities decided they would not grant him asylum there, and Vladimiro Montesinos flew back to Peru, apparently to mount a direct challenge to President Fujimori.

There had been fears that he might try to instigate a military coup. But following the formal resignation of Mr Fujimori on 20 November, the Peruvian military swore to abide by the constitution, and to respect any political changes made after the president's departure.

All the time the mystery around Mr Montesinos grew as he had gone into hiding, with reports of him being spotted in various parts of the world and rumours that he had undergone plastic surgery to change his appearance.

At the same time the shocking extent to which he had bribed the higher echelons of Peruvian society became apparent. Mr Montesinos left behind some 700 Vladi Videos, as they have become known.

Those that have been broadcast show him successfully giving money to a range of people to secure their support.

The Betrayal of Peru's Democracy: Montesinos as Fujimori's Svengali

Covert Action Quarterly -- Summer 1994

                                by Gustavo Gorriti

The Spy Who Would Rule Peru
An investigative journalist recalls his quest to expose a notorious power-monger

By Gustavo Gorriti

February 1, 2005 — Vladimiro Montesinos, the spy who was almost king, is now an inmate in a prison he ordered built while his power was unchallenged. It is inside the Peruvian navy's main base in Callao.

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There with Montesinos is Abimael Guzmán, the Shining Path leader who led a 12-year insurgency believed to have killed more than 35,000 people. Other leaders of Shining Path and MRTA (another defeated insurgent organization) are also imprisoned at the base. For most Peruvians, evil sits there in uneasy assembly, while time drips slowly.

Time, though, is crucial for Montesinos, who's now being tried on some of the more serious charges he faces: human rights atrocities, drug trafficking and the smuggling of 10,000 assault rifles to the FARC guerrillas in Colombia. If convicted, he may be sentenced to 20, 25 or 30 years in prison—a lifetime for someone in his late fifties.

But he has managed in the past to bounce back from infamy to power. And this Houdini of the comeback perceives another chance, because Peru's democratic regime is weak. Democracy must falter or break down for him to have any chance of freedom and, equally important, revenge.

I am the journalist who wrote the first exposé about him 22 years ago, when his name had no public meaning, but when he was already a rogue spy, a narco lawyer and a strategist bent on conquering power by hook or by crook. When I wrote that exposé, I didn't think it would turn out to be the abbreviated foreword to a 20-year-old, still-unfinished story in which the spy usually had the upper hand, even when other journalists joined the fray and the spy all but ruled Peru.

The Man in the Shadows

I first wrote about Montesinos in 1983, two years after arriving at Caretas, Peru's leading newsweekly magazine. At the time, the country was transitioning away from a 12-year military dictatorship; the Shining Path insurgency was growing out of its deceptive provincial insignificance; and cocaine trafficking was becoming a poorly hidden, contradictory economic revolution.

Vladimiro Montesinos wasn't known to many at the time. He had been a young army captain in the early 1970s, during the heady days of the leftist military dictatorship led by General Juan Velasco.

In 1973, Captain Montesinos became an aide to the powerful army chief and prime minister, General Edgardo Mercado Jarrin. After the Pinochet coup against President Salvador Allende in Chile, tension increased between Peru's leftist and Chile's right-wing military regimes. Preparing for possible war, Peru bought tanks, planes and missiles from the Soviet Union. The shopping list was a top military secret, and it was kept in General Mercado's safe.

In 1974, Montesinos was suspected of spying for the U.S., charged with handing over, among other things, copies of that weapons list. General Mercado, fearing compromise and perhaps disgrace, quashed an investigation. He was neither dishonest nor incapable, but rather susceptible to flattery; apparently, Montesinos had persuaded him that he was South America's answer to Clausewitz, the renowned Prussian military strategist.

That first contact with power shaped Montesinos's goals and methods. He would never seek the limelight, but would infiltrate himself into power by becoming an advisor to honchos with ambitions greater than their qualifications.

Montesinos's luck ran out after General Velasco was deposed in 1975. Frustrated and out of favor with the new army chief, Montesinos made a two-week visit to the United States, paid for by an American government International Visitors Leader Grant. Immediately after arriving back in Lima, he was arrested on the pretext that he had not obtained formal permission for the trip from the government of Peru.

During the short investigation that followed, many top-secret documents were found in his possession. He was indicted by the army's prosecutor, who prepared to base his accusation on grounds of high treason, the penalty for which was the firing squad. But the matter didn't proceed because it would have meant disgracing General Mercado and embarrassing the army. Montesinos was cashiered from the army and sentenced to a military prison.

After his release he embarked on a new career as a narco-lawyer, networking with many crooked policemen, prosecutors and judges, thus streamlining the corruption process. He also tried to regain influence in the army, largely through extortion in a weekly column, named "Intelligence Service," published anonymously in a marginal magazine.

In late 1983, unsettled army sources gave Caretas information about the backgrounds of that column's authors. I followed up on the tip and soon discovered the murky trails leading to drug trafficking and conspiracy against Peru's then-fledgling democracy. Caretas published the story, then another, and Montesinos found himself exposed and in a weak position. When he fled the country, I thought that would be the end of the story.

The Tortuous Road to Power

Several months later, I learned that he had sneaked back into Peru. I decided to let matters rest, assuming that he was no longer a dangerous man.

It took more than a year to find out how mistaken I was, but by then Montesinos was treading into the path that would bring him to power five years later. Each of the main stations along that route was itself a major story, whose outcome he managed to influence from the shadows. The more important were:

  • The Reynaldo Rodríguez López drug-trafficking organization had corrupted key state institutions to the core. The heads of the Investigative Police in the previous five years had worked for it, as had the personal advisor to a minister of the Interior and then the prime minister. Others cooperating closely with the group included intelligence and police chiefs, a Supreme Court justice, many businessmen and at least one bank.

    They were so persuaded of their power and immunity that Rodríguez López installed a cocaine lab inside his compound, a volatile proposition as he found out when it blew up, in mid-1985. Amidst the wreckage and confusion, I rushed to wrap up a two-year investigation of that organization. Days after the explosion, Caretas published the first in a long series of reports that spawned an energetic investigation ordered by the attorney general.

    Then Montesinos took over the defense of the trafficking organization and sued the police officers in charge of the investigation. They soon found themselves on trial, harassed by lawsuits, threatening phone calls and even gunfire on Lima's Via Expresa.

  • In 1987, Hugo Denegri assumed the office of attorney general. With his honed instinct to detect over-ambition and under-qualification, Montesinos soon became Denegri's unofficial advisor, and in that capacity had him finish off the cover-up in the Rodríguez López case.

  • The May 1988 Cayara massacre, perpetrated by the army in that Andean village, became a national scandal, prompting congressional and judicial investigations. The chief of the emergency area, General Jose Valdivia, panicked and engaged in a macabre race of disinterring, re-burying and disappearing corpses, trying to stay a few graves ahead of the prosecutor.

    Montesinos offered Valdivia and the minister of defense the wherewithal to cover up the case. His calling card was the domesticated Denegri. The army agreed to cooperate and the cover-up was direct and brutal: the prosecutor's witnesses were picked up and killed one by one. All told, 40 were murdered, eight were tortured.

  • Montesinos offered to bring General Edwin Díaz, chief of the National Intelligence Service (SIN), confidential files from the attorney general's office about victims of human rights abuses and those charged with alleged Shining Path membership, along with information about their relatives. When Díaz accepted the offer, Montesinos gained a foothold in the institution he would later use to control Peru.

  • In 1990, Peru was a desperate country. The Shining Path was attacking targets in Lima with increasing tempo and ferocity. Thanks to record hyperinflation, President Alan Garcia was a discredited leader. That helps explains how Alberto Fujimori, an unknown candidate of Japanese immigrant parents, could suddenly surge in the polls in the general elections and trounce the favorite candidate, writer Mario Vargas Llosa, in the run-off.

Montesinos had managed to adhere himself to Fujimori before the run-off, when reports about Fujimori's tax cheating threatened his candidacy. For a successful narco lawyer to cover up small-time tax cheating was a breeze, but for Fujimori it was both relief and revelation.

Fujimori was ill-prepared to take charge of a wounded country and Montesinos seized the opportunity. Soon after becoming the new president's informal advisor on intelligence (but with real authority over all of the security forces), Montesinos sought to establish a regular relationship with the CIA, through its Lima station chief. He made it clear that he would be the Fujimori government's point of contact regarding intelligence matters.

Despite strong misgivings at the U.S. Embassy (especially from some DEA officers, who knew details of Montesinos's role in drug-trafficking organizations), he established a working relationship with station chief Joseph Marques—a privileged relationship with the CIA that solidified his position and would prove to be his single-most-important strength through the 1990s.

In September 1991, all Peruvian anti-drug operations were put under control of the SIN—that is, under the control of Montesinos. At the American Embassy in Lima, this enraged some from the DEA and the State Department's Narcotics Assistance Unit. But their protests went unheeded, as the CIA supported the new arrangement. The fox had finally managed to become master of the henhouse.

Winners Take All

From 1985 to 1989, I lived mostly in the United States. Although I no longer worked for Caretas, I began cooperating with the magazine's editor and publisher to uncover Montesinos.

The stories, which described Montesinos's past and his influence with Fujimori, only stimulated the Peruvian president to issue bogus denials about having any ties with the spy.

The stories also stimulated Montesinos to muzzle Caretas via a lawsuit. The magazine remained under injunction not to even mention him.

On April 5, 1992, Fujimori and Montesinos perpetrated a "self-coup," dissolved Congress and abrogated whatever semblance of democracy remained in Peru. Army troops and intelligence squads in plain clothes fanned out, neutralizing political leaders, seizing documents, hunting down enemies.

That night, I was captured in my home by a submachine gun-toting intelligence squad supported by a truckload of soldiers. I thought it would be a "traditional" police arrest. But when intelligence squad members (some of whom had perpetrated several recent killings in Lima) identified themselves as "police," I realized the situation was much worse than I had expected—something I confirmed when I found myself incommunicado in a clandestine jail at the Army Intelligence Service compound. I was a desaparecido (a disappeared one), and it looked as if Montesinos was going to exact his long-sought revenge.

He failed, but only because I had been able to spread word of what was about to happen, and international pressure finally forced my unconditional release.

I kept working in Lima, trying—sometimes a bit successfully—to make the new dictatorship miserable, but I was learning some bitter lessons. The international community—and most of the mainstream press—just wanted to forgive and forget, although I believed it was my duty to keep exposing the facts about this outlaw dictatorship. Vile threats ensued, including some quite credible, making it clear I was working on the very edge.

There was a different, bigger problem, however: I had become unemployable in Peru and had few prospects as an international correspondent. I could stand danger, but not an empty bank account. So in late 1992 I left Peru with my family, to be away (except for short journalistic visits) for the next eight years.

I tried to publish exposés on Montesinos, but was met with polite but consistent rejections by the U.S. mainstream press, in part because I was described by many as being obsessed with my subject. You are a crusader, one newspaper publisher told me, but we don't do that kind of journalism in this country.

An investigation I wrote in 1992 ("Fujimori's Svengali") was published, out of lack of choice, by Covert Action Quarterly almost two years later, branding me as a conspiracy theorist who was generally sane except when "Montesinos" was uttered. It worked well for the Fujimori regime, but I remained undeterred, even though my efficacy was limited.

Actually, what I had been able to unearth was just a fraction of a larger, more sinister truth. While some of the worthiest people in Peru—the human rights community, the top journalists, the best artists and writers—never wavered in opposing what they, like I, knew was a corrupt dictatorship, they were a distinct minority for several years. Many went along and pretended not to see, including the U.S. government.

Fujimori and Montesinos had won, and their victory would last for almost a decade.

Nowhere to Run

In 1996 I moved to Panama, hired by that country's leading newspaper, La Prensa, as associate director. One year later, after several La Prensa investigations had exposed people close to President Ernesto Pérez Balladares, he decided to expel me from Panama. I resolved to resist the deportation order, moved to the La Prensa offices and began a standoff with the authorities.

In the midst of what became a crisis, Pérez Balladares told his worried ministers there was an undeclared reason of national security for expelling me: he had been informed that Peruvian intelligence had branded me a Shining Path accomplice who had been targeted for assassination. We don't want this man killed on Panamanian territory, he told a cabinet meeting.

A few hours later the information was leaked to me at La Prensa, and I in turn transmitted it to the Miami Herald, where it was published. The Fujimori government naturally denied any intent of transnational killing, while Pérez Balladares found himself embarrassed and looking for a way to extricate himself from that confrontation.

As even Fujimori could attest, Montesinos was already the most powerful man in Peru. He was also one of the richest, thanks to an almost obsessive looting of the country. And although he feared and loathed the press, he would eventually become the biggest publisher in Peruvian history, using his overwhelming control of TV, radio and newspapers to destroy several opposition candidates who seemed potential obstacles to Fujimori's re-election bid.

To those few in the know, he was the man who could extort protection money from drug traffickers while being extravagantly praised by the CIA for his role in fighting drugs.

In 2000, a tired and reluctant Fujimori stood for still another re-election. After other candidates had been demolished by the SIN's propaganda machinery, Alejandro Toledo, another apparent also-ran, surged enough in the polls to pose a serious challenge to Fujimori. On Election Day, all of Montesinos's machinery and chicanery weren't enough to prevent early exit-poll projections from giving Toledo a lead.

In the end, Montesinos had no choice but to resign himself to a run-off.

A week later, in Miami, I was asked by Toledo to come to Peru as his advisor for the run-off. I requested a leave of absence from La Prensa and moved to Lima, where there was a real, albeit slim, chance of defeating a dictatorship.

It was an uphill struggle, but when Toledo began to frame his campaign as one of democracy versus dictatorship, his strength surged.

But faced with evidence that the voting would be rigged, he decided to withdraw from the run-off and continue his campaign for democracy. Fujimori was proclaimed president by the quiescent electoral authority, while we prepared a massive three-day march on Lima.

The second day of that huge rally, which coincided with Fujimori's inauguration on Peru's National Day, turned violent. As we marched, buildings were engulfed in flames—a ploy by government operatives, it seemed, to charge us with violence and even terrorism. But it was poorly planned and fruitless.

Montesinos, on the other hand, was busy appearing to support Fujimori, while plotting to oust him. In March 2000 he had organized a classic coup d'etat plan, but the presumed figurehead president, Economy Minister Carlos Boloña, later had second thoughts. In July, the decision was made to install the army chief, General José Villanueva Ruesta, as president. He also got cold feet.

A bribery operation to buy opposition congressmen was in full swing, with a degree of success. Its blatancy, however, made it counterproductive. When a video showing Montesinos bribing Congressman Alberto Kouri was leaked and shown publicly (Montesinos secretly filmed almost everyone he bought off), the scandal gave the final push to a reeling regime.

In short order, Montesinos found himself negotiating the terms of his exit. He eventually asked for exile in Panama and a 15-million-dollar severance payment.

Reversal of Fortunes

I was back in Panama, my leave of absence over, when Montesinos arrived there. It came about after President Mireya Moscoso gave in to pressure by the United States and many Latin American presidents to receive the exile.

But Montesinos's stay in Panama would be short-lived. On October 22, a source from Panamanian intelligence telephoned me with urgent news: Montesinos was leaving the country on a southbound chartered flight. Ten minutes later, a source from the U. S. Embassy confirmed the information.

I called Lima's Channel N, at the time the nation's only independent 24-hour cable news channel. On air, I informed Peru that Montesinos was flying back.

When he stopped over in Guayaquil, in western Ecuador, journalists were swarming the airport. The surprise was on him.

Montesinos landed at an air force base in Pisco, but nothing was the same. His Praetorian Guard had melted away, and all the generals could offer was surreptitious help. So he went into hiding.

Montesinos fled Peru even before Fujimori went into self-imposed exile, in November 2000. The spy hadn't prepared for a reversal of fortune, and after a tortuous journey to the Galápagos Islands, then to Costa Rica, and finally to Venezuela, he ended up, forlorn and rightly frightened, in a lower-middle-class house in Caracas, more kidnapped than protected by his greedy custodians. He was lucky in the end to be caught alive.

I imagine he was even relieved to be returning to Peru. He had his life. He would be going back to a prison whose guards and their chiefs had been his subordinates, whose weaknesses he knew well. Back to be tried by a judiciary he had manipulated first and controlled later. No one would torture him. This was, after all, a democracy, one of those that tend to be short-lived in Latin America, as Montesinos knew while preparing his defense.

In 2001 I returned for good to Peru, and again became an advisor to Toledo in that year's presidential campaign. He won, and I continued to advise him through the transition weeks.

A few days before Toledo's inauguration I went to resign and say goodbye. He read my farewell letter, which he found difficult to understand. He said he needed me as his chief of intelligence.

I couldn't help but laugh. After all these years of battling, to have the president ask me to sit in Montesinos's still-warm chair was partly funny, mostly sad. Apparently, for him it was natural that the journalist who had helped defeat the spy would become a spy himself in the process. I said no, of course, and left as I had promised a year earlier to return to independent journalism.

So, a few disenchanting years into democracy later, I was sitting in the courtroom, watching Montesinos. He was clearly weakened. Mystery had been taken away from him. The man of the shadows had become one of the most documented spies in history. He stood as it were under a klieg light, intimacies exposed by the detailed testimony of former aides, lovers, collaborators, and especially by the hundreds of videos reproducing his transactions. The portrait that emerges is anything but flattering. True, he appears enterprising, audacious, vindictive and relentless, but also shallow and insubstantial.

Yet, as I looked again at him sitting in the courtroom, exposed, the weight of the legal system on him, I knew that I wasn't looking at a finished man.




DEA Chief Robert Bonner said CIA Smuggled Drugs

L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."—Senator John Kerry (1996)

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. -1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, CIA Headquarters
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Peru's Spy Chief Growing Powerful

Associated Press -- 27 March 2000

                                by Monte Hayes


                LIMA, Peru (AP) - The government's critics say he's a sinister genius with a dark past. His defenders                 say Peruvians owe him gratitude for his role in neutralizing a leftist insurgency that threatened Peru's stability.                


                                But all agree on one thing: intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos is growing more powerful. Many believe his                 power now exceeds even that of President Alberto Fujimori, who is seeking a third term in April 9 elections.                


                                ``Montesinos controls the armed forces, the judicial system, the attorney general's office,'' political scientist                 Fernando Rospigliosi contends. ``He has immense power, more than Fujimori.''                


                                Montesinos is the shadow at Fujimori's ear, always close by but out of the public eye. He is a man who prefers                 the night, meeting with the president during the pre-dawn hours. He is accountable to no one except Fujimori.                 Many Cabinet members have never met him.                


                                ``Today the true power in Peru is Vladimiro Montesinos, an absolutely unscrupulous man,'' says Francisco Loayza,                 a former member of the intelligence service. Loayza introduced Montesinos to Fujimori during his first presidential                 campaign in 1990 and has written a book about Peru's spy chief called ``The Dark Face of Power.''                


                                Feared for his extensive network of spies and informants, Montesinos is the key player in Fujimori's authoritarian                 regime and the architect of his re-election drive. Election monitors within and outside Peru accuse Montesinos'                 National Intelligence Service of being behind a dirty tricks campaign to intimidate and discredit Fujimori's                 electoral foes.                


                                With Fujimori leading his opponents in public opinion polls and expected to win a third five-year term, government                 critics predict Montesinos' grip on power will tighten.                


                                Peruvians got a glimpse of that power recently when retired army Cmdr. Francisco Morales Bermudez, who headed a                 military government in the 1970s, recalled during a television interview that Montesinos, then an army captain,                 had been expelled in disgrace for forging documents and served a year in prison.                


                                The next day, the army high command issued a scathing communique attacking Morales Bermudez, who is widely                 respected for paving the way for the return of democratic rule. It called him a liar.                


                                Fujimori also accused Morales Bermudez of lying, saying he had political ambitions and wanted to muddy Montesinos'                 image.                


                                Montesinos, as usual, made no public appearance to defend himself.                


                                A few days later, an indignant Morales Bermudez appeared on television to show copies of army documents proving                 Montesinos was court-martialed and cashiered. He was found guilty of forging Morales Bermudez's name to a permit                 that allowed him to make an unauthorized trip to the United States.                


                                ``Montesinos must have tremendous power if the president and the army come forth to support a man full of dishonor                 who was punished by the army itself,'' Morales Bermudez says.                


                                The relationship between Fujimori and Montesinos and the question of who is more powerful is a frequent topic of                 conversation among Peruvians.                


                                Never seen at any public function until a few years ago, Montesinos of late has taken to appearing at military                 ceremonies, where generals pay respect to him as if he, and not Fujimori, were commander in chief.                


                                Last April, in the only interview he has ever given, the 54-year-old Montesinos appeared with Fujimori in a                 carefully staged setting at the headquarters of the National Intelligence Service. The two wore identical gray                 suits and checkered ties.                


                                Montesinos took questions from a television reporter, who admitted later that the intelligence chief had given                 him the questions to ask beforehand.                


                                ``Intelligence agents always work in silence,'' Montesinos told his interviewer, explaining his mysterious ways.                


                                Rospigliosi, the political scientist, says Montesinos has so much power that ``he is rewriting history, trying to                 erase his shameful past.''                


                                After being released from military prison in 1978, Montesinos became a lawyer for the drug underworld before                 hooking up with Fujimori. In 1996, a major drug trafficker accused him of taking payoffs but later recanted his                 trial testimony. Montesinos' intelligence service also has been linked to death squad killings and torture.                


                                Loayza, the former intelligence agent, says he brought Fujimori and Montesinos together.                


                                He says outgoing President Alan Garcia ordered the intelligence service to help Fujimori defeat famed Peruvian                 novelist Mario Vargas Llosa for the presidency in 1990 because Garcia feared an investigation into corruption in                 his government if Vargas Llosa won.                


                                The intelligence service learned Vargas Llosa's campaign was going to accuse Fujimori of tax fraud for having                 undervalued several houses that the then lowly paid university president and his wife, Susana, had built and                 sold to supplement their income.                


                                Loayza says he knew Montesinos could torpedo the investigation through his contacts in the judicial system. One                 night, he took him to Fujimori's home for a meeting with the candidate. Within three days, Montesinos had resolved                 the problem to the delight of the Fujimoris, Loayza says.                


                                ``Montesinos crept in like gas under the door,'' Loayza recalls.                


                                Today, Susana Higuchi is divorced from Fujimori and running for Congress on an opposition ticket. Her opinion of                 Montesinos has changed.                


                                ``His intelligence serves for evil. He is like a sword of Damocles over the president,'' she says.                


                                In December, a newspaper discovered a bank account in Montesinos' name with more than $2 million. It said he had                 received average monthly deposits of $170,000 from December 1998 to November 1999 from an unknown source. His                 public salary has never been revealed.                


                                Montesinos requested an investigation to clear his name, and the attorney general quickly issued a ruling that                 there were insufficient grounds to bring charges of illicit enrichment.                


                                Hernando de Soto, a respected economist who worked closely with Fujimori in his first term, says it may be                 difficult to dislodge Montesinos from power - even if Fujimori suffers a surprise defeat in his bid for a third                 term.                


                                ``He's Peru's most unpopular man and its most accused man,'' de Soto says. ``They're going to be after him with                 bloodhounds when this is over, so, of course, he doesn't want it to be over.''

Ex-spymaster guilty of corruption

El paraíso en la otra esquina
El paraíso en la otra esquina
Published by the Miami Herald, 3/3/05


Peru's former spy chief was convicted again, this time for taking payoffs from imprisoned drug dealers -- and his legal troubles are not over.


Former spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos has taken another legal hit, continuing his ignominious transformation from Peru's most feared man to an oft-convicted criminal.

A special anticorruption court convicted Montesinos on Tuesday of taking payoffs from jailed drug traffickers in exchange for leaning on judges to lessen their sentences.

The shadowy intelligence chief under President Alberto Fujimori during the 1990s, he received a seven-year sentence, which he will serve concurrently with a 15-year sentence from a previous corruption case. He has now been convicted in seven different cases.

But Montesinos' legal woes are only beginning. There are nearly 70 cases pending against him, including the most serious.

''The tentacles of the empire he created are so vast, and he brought so many people into the corruption net -- prosecutors say that over 1,400 people associated with him could ultimately be the target of criminal charges -- that it will literally take years to bring them all to trial,'' said Sally Bowen, co-author of The Imperfect Spy: The Many Lives of Vladimiro Montesinos.


In a separate but concurrent trial that began early last year, Montesinos faces charges of masterminding the sale of 10,000 AK-47-type assault rifles to leftist Colombian guerrillas.

His representatives allegedly purchased the Soviet-era rifles from Jordan in 1999 and air-dropped most of them over isolated parts of Colombia.

The anti-corruption court is expected to deliver its verdict in that case in about six weeks.

Prosecutors are seeking a 20-year sentence, which would run concurrently with his previous sentences -- in effect adding five years to his prison term.


Among the other upcoming high-profile cases against him are two in which he is accused of facilitating drug trafficking in Peru in exchange for a share of the profits.

He will also go to trial on charges that he directed a death squad known as the Grupo Colina, which killed 15 people during a barbecue in a Lima shantytown in 1991 and nine students and a professor one evening at a Lima university in 1992.

In each case, the government said those killed were suspected of having links to the Shining Path guerrillas then terrorizing Peru. Prosecutors are seeking a 25-year sentence in that case.


In January, Montesinos was convicted of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to owners of tabloid newspapers to smear opponents of Fujimori when he ran for reelection in 2000. Along with Montesinos, chiefs of the army and the air force were also convicted, as were 10 other people, including tabloid editors, middlemen who delivered cash, and publicists hired to invent damaging headlines and news stories.

Montesinos received his longest sentence -- 15 years -- last June when he was convicted of paying millions of dollars to television station owners to broadcast favorable news about Fujimori.


Fujimori was a little-known university chancellor when he was elected president in 1990 at a time when Peru seemed to be melting down. Shining Path was waging a murderous war against the state, and inflation had soared to 7,500 percent a year. Montesinos, a discredited army officer, joined Fujimori's inner circle, became adept at pushing aside potential rivals, and turned the military and intelligence service into his personal crime-filled fiefdom.

A video made public in 2000 that showed him paying off an opposition member of Congress unmasked him.

He fled the country, was captured in Venezuela in 2001, and has remained behind bars at a naval prison since then.

The Peruvian government has recovered $174 million that Montesinos stole and hid in the international banking system, and is still trying to recoup $50 million or so.

Ronald Gamarra, formerly a member of the special prosecutor's office that has been targeting Montesinos, said the 59-year-old at best could win early release after serving 20 years in prison.

But President Alejandro Toledo believes Montesinos is trying to win favor with Peruvian politicians, hoping the next administration or Congress will free him.

Who Really Supports Cocaine Traffickers?


                                By                 Kevin Nelson,                 AlterNet. Posted April 6, 2004.

This week, despite having no clear evidence, US prosecutors announce an investigation of Jean Bertrand Aristide's alleged ties to cocaine traffickers; meanwhile, a Peruvian court tries Vladimir Montesinos -- a 30-year CIA asset -- for supplying Colombian drug traffickers with weapons.         Tools
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More stories by                         Kevin Nelson

This week, despite having no clear evidence, US prosecutors announce an investigation of Jean Bertrand Aristide's alleged ties to cocaine traffickers; meanwhile, a Peruvian court tries Vladimir Montesinos -- a 30-year CIA asset -- for supplying Colombian drug traffickers with weapons.

April 3- AFP reports: Prosecutors are investigating whether Haitian former president Jean Bertrand Aristide took millions of dollars from drug traffickers who moved cocaine through his impoverished nation, it was reported.

"It's in the early stages," one law enforcement source told The Miami Herald. "It's a bit premature to say we've got anything yet. But you're not wrong if you say that's where we're going."

The report quoted officials in Florida and Washington as saying investigators had been briefed on reports that relatives of Aristide and his wife, Mildred, hold nearly 250 million dollars in European banks. The officials added, however, that there is no indication yet whether the funds actually exist.

Haiti's Justice Minister Bernard Gousse meanwhile said that Friday he planned to set up a commission next week to investigate allegations against Aristide "from misuse of government funds to human-rights abuses."

Aristide's Miami lawyer Ira Kurzban attributed the investigation to politics: "After kidnapping President Aristide, the Bush administration is not content to simply end democracy in Haiti -- they need to politically assassinate Aristide."

April 4- The Scotsman reports: Vladimiro Montesinos is a legendary figure in Latin America and is now at the centre of the most explosive trial in Peruvian history, watched with the kind of devotion usually only reserved for soap operas.

But the 58-year-old's latest trial, in which he is accused of smuggling 10,000 rifles to Colombian terrorists, has also seen the US intelligence services become embroiled in an embarrassing row about whether the CIA not only knew what Montesinos was up to and turned a blind eye, but have actively undermined Washington's multibillion-dollar war on drugs by doing so.

The plot is something out of a John le Carre novel. In 1999 a shadowy spymaster brokers an arms deal to send 10,000 AK-47 rifles to guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

A Lebanese arms dealer, Sarkis Soghanalian, known as 'The Merchant of Death', gets the rifles from Jordan and puts them on a Ukrainian plane that parachutes them into the Colombian jungles controlled by the rebels.

The payment for the consignment comes from Brazil's most feared drug lord, Luiz Fernando da Costa, better known as 'Freddy Seashore' after the slum from which he rose to power. He gets his payment in drugs from the FARC, allegedly 20 tonnes of cocaine.

The story is spectacular enough, but there is another complicating and compelling element: if not the involvement, then the knowledge of the deal on the part of the CIA. Peruvian prosecutor, Ronald Gamarra, after two years of investigation of the case and hundreds of interviews, is convinced the CIA knew of the plot.

"In the trafficking of the arms to the FARC, Montesinos could have had the support of the CIA," said Gamarra. "I don't have hard evidence of it, but various leads indicate that it is probable."

That there have been links between the CIA and Montesinos for the best part of 30 years is no secret. In 1976, Montesinos was expelled from the army and put in prison for selling secrets to the CIA, when George Bush senior held the top post at Langley.

Montesinos then put himself through law school and became the defender of drug traffickers. But once he became former president Alberto Fujimori's right-hand man in 1990 the relationship with the CIA became still closer and Montesinos became known by the American agency as 'Mr. Fix'.

Gamarra believes the CIA have something to hide, saying that the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration have been very co-operative in his investigations, while the CIA has stonewalled him on everything.

His fears are supported by arms dealer Soghanalian, currently in US custody. Soghanalian said he would not have had anything to do with the deal had not the CIA been aware of it.

In his declaration to US authorities he said: "When I went to get the license from the Jordanian authorities I went to [US] military intelligence and foreign intelligence [the CIA]. I said that this was an area very sensitive to the Americans on a political level."

His testimony is backed by the Jordanians. The AK-47s, made in East Germany, were destined, so the Jordanians thought, for the Peruvian army.

According to Atef Halasa, the head of protocol at the Jordanian Foreign Ministry, his country would not have released the weapons without informing US authorities. Halasa was reported as saying that the American government not only knew of the deal, but that it was authorized by the CIA.

The severity of the accusations against the CIA has sent US authorities into panic. The FARC have long been on Washington's terrorist list and the Colombian government is one of the largest recipients of US military aid in the world after Israel and Egypt. Over the years, several Americans have been killed by the Colombian rebels, who have threatened to target US personnel in their bloody war to seize power and establish a Marxist regime.

Indeed the FARC have three US intelligence operatives in their power, captured after their spy plane crash landed in guerrilla territory in February last year.

The CIA has refused to comment, except to say, "it's a matter before the courts".

The former CIA Head of Station in Peru, Robert Gorelick, believed to have been the linkman for the agency with Montesinos, has also refused to testify in a Peruvian court.

Montesinos during interrogation in May 2002 said he "met an average of two or three times a week with Mr. Gorelick".

State Department spokesman Phil Chicola, responsible for the Andean nations, called the accusations against the CIA "the greatest foolishness... irresponsible, black propaganda made by people that do not know what they are talking about".

Many find it unbelievable that the CIA would have turned a blind eye to, or actually helped with, such an order, actively undermining the work of the US in Colombia, arming the guerrillas that Washington describes as "narco-terrorists".

But a senior judicial source in Peru said the CIA appears to be instigating a process to get Montesinos extradited to the US to face some charges there, most likely in an attempt to halt the damaging proceedings in Peru and prevent more explosive revelations.

"How can people doubt that the CIA is capable of something like this," said a senior Peruvian judicial source on condition of anonymity. "Did the Iran Contra scandal teach you nothing?"


DEA Chief Robert Bonner said CIA Smuggled Drugs

L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."—Senator John Kerry (1996)

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. -1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, CIA Headquarters
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Vladimiro Montesinos:
The Betrayal of Peruvian Democracy
Fujimori's Svengali
by Gustavo Gorriti

On April 5, 1992, almost two years after he was elected president of Peru, Alberto Fujimori dissolved parliament and seized dictatorial powers. The mastermind behind the conspiracy to overthrow democracy is Vladimiro Montesinos. For over two decades, Montesinos has operated from the shadows. Narco-lawyer, traitor, human rights violator, former soldier, spy, he has mesmerized Fujimori and used close links to drug trafficking organizations, and then to the CIA, to become not only the country's de facto drug czar, but perhaps the most powerful person in Peru.

On the night of November 13, 1992, Lima was surrounded by a sort of fog of war. In the temporary panic accompanying that night's attempted coup, the shroud of intrigue and secrecy lifted for a few hours, and the truth began to emerge. In the seven months since President Fujimori staged his auto golpe, his self-coup, he had conducted extensive purges within the judiciary and the state apparatus, aggregated dictatorial power, and come increasingly under the sway of his personal Svengali Vladimiro Montesinos. Some in the military had had enough. That November night they planned a counter-coup to restore constitutional rule and unseat the dictator. The conspiracy was doomed to fail. Probably infiltrated, it may have been an elaborate sting designed to lure into the open and entrap those army officers opposed to Fujimori's armed seizure of dictatorial powers. But as often happens, the provocateurs lost temporary control of the operation just as they sprang the trap. When more officers than expected followed Gen. Jaime Salinas, the brave but unfortunate leader, the coup suddenly looked viable. Fujimori panicked. He fled the presidential palace and headed for army headquarters. But midway, he changed direction and rushed to the Japanese Embassy in Lima, seeking refuge.

With his whereabouts unknown, the regular system of communications broke down. Voices reached out across the night on cellular phones, while tape recorders hooked up to scanners recorded the conversations. Fujimori, his voice slightly distorted by anxiety but unmistakable in its nasal tone, was at one end of the line. A rapid fire high-pitched voice at the other end reassured him that he was sending men to reinforce the presidential escort. Fujimori gave directions on how to reach him.

As the tape recorders eavesdropped, the man with the high thin voice went into gear. He suggested actions to army commander-in-chief, General Nicolás de Bari Hermoza Ríos, identifiable from his barking proclamations of allegiance to Fujimori. Hermoza immediately acceded and said: If we don't find him [coup leader Salinas] now, we'll detain him tomorrow. Why don't we detain him right now? asked the other. I have agents here....I'll have him detained, we'll take him out by force, Hermoza echoed enthusiastically. By force, by force.

Later, when several arrests had been made, they talked again. It seems we reacted fast, said Hermoza. Who gave you the information? I'll tell you later, answered the other. Then just before dawn, after the coup had fizzled and General Salinas had been captured in a shoot-out, the conversation resumed, for a little gloating. He [Salinas] is half crazy; he's out of focus, said Hermoza. He's all fucked up. He's dead, sentenced the other man. The other man, the one with the high-pitched voice, was promptly identified. It was Vladimiro Montesinos. While some people claimed he was the most powerful man in Peru after Fujimori, others asserted he was the real power, albeit behind the throne.

Several army officers detained that night at the National Intelligence Service's (SIN, Peru's equivalent of the CIA) headquarters experienced Montesinos' power in its most crude form. Montesinos and others hit Lt. Col. Enrique Aguilar del Alcázar in the face; later his hands were tied behind his back and he was hanged by his arms (a torture technique known in Peru as la pita or la colgada ) until pain compelled him to sign whatever they asked. Montesinos pricked Maj. Salvador Carmona (ret.) in his arms and legs with needles and had him strung up colgado. He hit Lt. Col. Marco Zarate and when the officer tried to hit back, Montesinos' bodyguards tied him to a chair and administered electric shocks until he signed the documents they presented. Maj. César Cáceres, a former aide of Gen. Salinas, was thrown face down on a mattress. Two policemen caught his arms in a shoulder bar, and as a third sat on his waist and pounded on his back, Montesinos hit him in the face. Two days later, Cáceres was hanged by his arms tied behind his back. I told them, he later wrote from prison, anything they wanted because I felt my arms were being yanked off my body.

Those who denounced the torture or criticized Montesinos or Hermoza were targeted: The homes of Gen. Luis Cisneros (ret.) and two other political leaders were bombed. Gen. Alberto Arciniega a counterinsurgency commander in the coca-carpeted Upper Huallaga Valley was sent into retirement and sought asylum in the Argentine Embassy.

Quest for Revenge, Victory and Power

They learned the hard lesson many already knew: Montesinos is a dangerous man to cross. He has much in common with the bizarrely brutal dictators of Latin American literature and history. But the reality of his life is less like a fictionally dramatic linear rise than a series of improbably melodramatic ups and downs. Montesinos went from an early experience of power to an enterprise in betrayal; from utter disgrace and pariah status to a quest for revenge, victory, and power.

A sad and earnest child, Montesinos grew up in genteel poverty in Arequipa, a city in the south of Peru which was also home to the families of writer Mario Vargas Llosa and Shining Path leader Abimael Guzmán. The docile son of a family that prided itself on learning and culture, Vladimiro was a good student. He went into the army because his father thought a military career would offer stability. In 1966, he graduated with no particular distinction from officer's school in Lima and was posted back home as a sub-lieutenant.

He soon became engaged to a local heiress. After she gave him the loan he asked for, he dumped her and refused to return the money. Only on threat of prosecution did Montesinos' father scrape together the cash and pay the debt. Montesinos was developing his behavioral signature: Seduce, use, and betray. The pattern, first stamped on a hapless woman, would later be perpetrated on a much larger scale.

Making His Move

Although somewhat of a misfit in the rough, unsophisticated milieu of junior army officers, Montesinos soon demonstrated another characteristic behavior: He positioned himself close to power and the secrets it held. Indeed, that period was perhaps the only time in history when Peru had secrets worth keeping and therefore worth selling. It was an opportunity not lost on the ambitious young junior officer.

In October 1968, Peru's armed forces had overthrown President Fernando Belaunde. Under the leadership of Gen. Juan Velasco Alvarado, Peru embarked on a program of leftist radical reforms which promptly put the military regime at loggerheads with the United States. Velasco expelled the U.S. military mission, and in the early 1970s decided to buy Soviet weaponry to strengthen Peru's standing in the region. After Pinochet's coup in Chile, the Nixon administration got closer to Chile, while Velasco prepared for what he thought would be a showdown with Pinochet. Montesinos tested the winds and attached himself to Gen. Edgardo Mercado Jarrín, with whom he shared origins in Arequipa, intellectual pretensions, and political ambitions. In January 1973, when Mercado became prime minister, minister of war, and commander-in-chief of the army, Montesinos became his personal aide and one of a small group of advisors. Some in this inner circle would remain part of the Montesinos story until the present: Of the two civilians, Rafael Merino is still a close associate, while Francisco Loayza became a bitter enemy; of the four military officers, Col. Sinesio Jarama later branded Montesinos a traitor.

Montesinos would buy books for the general, suggest quotes for his speeches, and hint that he was destined with proper help to be South America's Clausewitz. Montesinos soon became indispensable. Alfred Stepan, then working for the Rand Corporation on the subject of the Peruvian military, and later a professor at Columbia University, met Montesinos in Peru. He remembers him as someone who would pop up at odd hours....I never saw him in uniform. This young man presented himself as a military intellectual...and he had read a lot of the stuff....There was no question that he was unusual....He didn't even appear to have an office. I have never met anyone like him in my research...an active duty who acts very much as a free agent.

As a free agent, he kept himself busy. While his boss, Gen. Mercado, was negotiating weapons acquisitions with the Soviets, Montesinos had the run of his office, drafting Mercado's speeches, flattering the general, making extensive use of the photocopy machine, and going through the office safe. Even after it was discovered that he had removed a document, Montesinos retained that access. Years later, Mercado would say that Montesinos came to his office, eyes brimming with tears, and confessed he had taken the document only out of intellectual curiosity.

There is little doubt that Montesinos was snooping. In fact, with the increasing level of Byzantine intrigues among opposing factions, everyone was trying to spy on everyone else. Then intelligence agents began to get information that the presidential weekly agenda was arriving at the U.S. Embassy almost as soon as it was approved by Velasco. Suspicion fell on Montesinos. According to former army intelligence chief Rafael Córdova, even before entering Mercado's office, Montesinos had been a paid agent of army intelligence. That role was bad enough, but spying for a foreign power was unprecedented and treasonous. Some junior officers tailed him and became convinced he was trafficking in top-secret documents, mainly to U.S. intelligence officials. Years later, in 1990, Col. Córdova, then-chief of army intelligence, charged that in the 1970s Montesinos had peddled Peru's complete list of Soviet weaponry, the list of new weapons acquisitions, Velasco's weekly agendas, and contingency plans for war with Pinochet's Chile.

Horacio Verbitsky, a leading Argentine journalist and author who sought refuge in Peru after receiving death threats from right-wing terrorists in Argentina, saw Montesinos often. He had, says Verbitsky, this safe box on the wall in his home where he kept all manner of very secret documents....Once he opened the box, took some documents out and showed them to me....[They] had something to do with the strategic equilibrium with Chile. Means, weaponry, something like that. I was very surprised to see the documents and very surprised that he would show them to me. To Verbitsky, Montesinos was a strange individual. He came to the center of power while still very young, he says. He was a seducer, who at the same time awakened mistrust in all of us who knew him. We used to ask each other: `To what service does he belong?'

Montesinos' First Coup Plot

It was during these politically charged years, that Montesinos became involved in his first presidential coup plot. In mid-1973, he tried to persuade Gen. Mercado to overthrow the physically and politically vulnerable president. While Velasco was still hospitalized after an aneurysm and leg amputation, Mercado organized a discreet meeting in his house with Rafael Merino, Col. Sinesio Jarama, and Capt. Montesinos to discuss ousting Velasco. Several alternatives were proposed, mostly by Montesinos, but Mercado hesitated, and the meeting ended inconclusively. Soon after, the pro-Velasco forces organized a rally in front of the hospital. When Cuban ambassador Antonio Núñez Jiménez marched prominently in front and prodded Mercado into declaring his support for the ailing president, the coup project fizzled on the spot.

Velasco, however, was losing his grip. Military radicals and moderates and their civilian collaborators conspired against each other, and as provocateurs shifted from side to side, Montesinos continued to plot. He approached Julio Cotler, one of Peru's top social scientists, who had written about being disenchanted with the military reform process. The captain claimed he belonged to a group of young military officers who were appalled at the betrayal of revolutionary principles. These young Turks were taking matters into their own hands and planning to kill the corrupt generals in the high command. Would Professor Cotler lend his intellectual support? Cotler threw him out of his office.

Years later Cotler saw Montesinos, already out of the army, sitting in on one of his classes. At the end, he came to say hello. Cotler, a very direct man, asked him, Do you remember when I threw you out of my office? Yes, Montesinos remembered. And tell me, asked Cotler, how could you think I could fall into such a transparent provocation? Montesinos smiled, Ah! Dr. Cotler, you wouldn't believe how many fell!

Cast from the Inner Circle of Power

When Mercado retired in 1975, his protege Montesinos, asked to be transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture where he became an advisor to the minister, Gen. Enrique Gallegos Venero, one of the young radical colonels behind the Velasco coup in 1968. And there, too, he continued to conspire, trying to play all sides.

Montesinos befriended several foreign journalists. One of them was married to a man with access to reliable information. Montesinos would occasionally give her a ride in his big American car from the Ministry to Military Region II's headquarters the stronghold of the radical officers to deliver documents taken from the ministry. He would try to get information from me he couldn't get from my husband, she said. He had those marvelous speakers in his car with a collection of Bach cassettes....He would leave me in his car, listening to the most marvelous things, while he went to do his thing. She remembers him as intellectually appealing: He knew how to fish things up, and where...but physically, he looked like a manipulator; he was very intelligent, but you could never trust him. The moderates who ousted Velasco and came to power in August 1975 with Gen. Francisco Morales Bermúdez also mistrusted Montesinos. They knew he had spied on the radicals, and they harbored misgivings about him. In mid-1976, the new commander-in-chief of the army, Gen. Guillermo Arbulú, ordered Montesinos transferred to El Algarrobo, a remote garrison near the Ecuador border.

Suddenly, after three heady years as a key source of information and misinformation with access to the top levels of power, Montesinos became an ordinary captain in a desolate backwater posting. He grew reckless.

To Disgrace and Prison

On August 27, after only two days at El Algarrobo, he requested sick leave, returned to Lima, stole a blank army travel form, falsified it, and went to the U.S. Embassy. There he received an official invitation to the U.S., which had either been on hold or was instantly arranged. On September 5, 1976, he illegally flew out of Lima as an official guest of the U.S. government. Once in Washington, however, his stay was far from clandestine. Officially and inaccurately presented as aide to Prime Minister Gen. Guillermo Arbulú, he met with, among others, Luigi Einaudi, then at the Policy Planning Staff of the State Department, and CIA Office of Current Intelligence officer, Robert Hawkins. He also spoke with an official Cuba hand about visiting Cuba, as personal guest of Raúl Castro, and met with several academics both in Washington and Connecticut. When he gave a talk at the Inter-American Defense College, a Peruvian general spotted him and cabled Lima.

On his return to Peru on September 21, 1976, Montesinos was immediately arrested, his house was searched, and his safe found and opened. After army counterintelligence looked inside, the search intensified and even the floor boards of his house were lifted up. A week later, a military tribunal cashiered him out of the army and ordered him confined to a military prison and guarded round-the-clock.

The U.S. Embassy responded meekly to Peru's strong protest to Montesinos' clandestine invitation: It regretted the concern caused the Government of Peru by the invitation extended to a military officer....The Embassy agrees with the Ministry's suggestion that in the future the Foreign Ministry should be informed of such invitations extended to members of the Armed Forces of Peru. Montesinos' legal situation worsened. After reviewing the file, the military prosecutor, General Alberto Vargas Ruiz de Somocurcio, recommended that the charge include treason to the fatherland, which carried a mandatory death sentence. Within memory, no army officer had been convicted of that crime.

Montesinos' cousin, Sergio Cardenal, took charge of the defense. I could talk with him only with an officer present throughout the interview. He was held in a room surrounded by soldiers at all times. In the end, General Vargas dropped the high treason charge: A conviction would have caused enormous embarrassment and destroyed Mercado Jarr!n's good reputation in the army. Nonetheless, many, including former army intelligence chief Rafael Córdova and General Jarama, consider Montesinos a traitor. I believe, said Jarama, he did betray his fatherland. On May 31, 1977, he was convicted of falsehood and desertion of command, formally expelled from the army, and sentenced to one year in jail. He would emerge a disgraced civilian.

Lawyer for Drug Organizations

Any possibility of a military career gone, Montesinos used his jail time to study law. Soon after he was freed, he graduated and briefly became partners with his cousin, Sergio Cardenal. After a few months, he began to prosper.

Montesinos saw that there were two main money-making crimes: fiscal fraud and cocaine trafficking, and he carved out a practice that took advantage of both. At each step of the judicial process, corrupt police, prosecutors, judges, and jailers competed to extract the maximum in bribes and kickbacks. Montesinos integrated the process. He got police to identify the best cases and tailor their reports with the prosecution and trial in mind, built a network of allies and informants inside key institutions, and identified corrupt police and judges.

Within a few years, Montesinos became a sought-after legal and administrative strategist for drug traffickers, providing services that went far beyond the practice of law. He rented homes for Colombian traffickers, advised accessories of traffickers when to go into hiding, managed the disappearance of files of fugitive Colombian traffickers to prevent extradition requests, and in at least one case, produced falsified documents to buttress his defense of a cocaine dealer. (He lost that case thanks to a dogged prosecutor, who, years later, was one of the first people sacked in Fujimori's post-coup purge.) He also maintained contacts in the army, and through them was able to procure useful intelligence about high-ranking army officers whom he smeared in a column he anonymously wrote for a now defunct Lima tabloid. The high command was enraged and in 1983 ordered its prosecutor, General Abraham Talavera, to revive the 1976 high treason accusation. For the second time, Montesinos was identified, disgraced, a fugitive. He fled the country to Ecuador and then to Argentina. Rid of the nuisance, the army's command lost interest. Talavera complained bitterly, to no avail.

This time, however, Montesinos had his share of allies. While he was abroad, colleagues in corruption rallied on his behalf. In mid-1984, the Supreme Military Council, by then staffed with some lawyers who worked on the side for Montesinos, exonerated him of all charges. He returned quietly to Lima and resumed his work. For the army, however, even by their loosened standards, he remained a pariah. In July 1985, then-army commander-in-chief, Guillermo Monzón, upgraded an order banning Montesinos from any army installation.

Defending Corrupt Police

For the drug mafia, on the other hand, Montesinos' handle on the system made him almost indispensable. There are major differences in the way corruption, including cocaine trafficking, works in Peru and Colombia. In Colombia, traffickers try to keep the state at arm's length. In Peru, they try to infiltrate it. Thus, media exposure has tremendous power to force the healthier parts of the state to act. In July 1985, the biggest Peruvian narcotics trafficking organization was uncovered, in part because of an accidental cocaine lab explosion, and to a large extent through investigations by Peru's leading news magazine, Caretas. They revealed that Reynaldo Rodríguez López's drug organization had thoroughly infiltrated the state, especially the police. Sparked by the media revelations, the public outcry was immediate. The energetic attorney general, César Elejalde, put the full resources of his organization behind the investigation, which was led by smiling but tough police general, Raúl Chávez. A year later, in 1986, with fugitive Rodríguez López arrested and in jail, they felt close to the Mafia's core.

But Montesinos had taken charge of the defense of the more important corrupt police generals and soon it became known that he coordinated the defense strategy of the organization as a whole. In July 1986, he had Gen. Chávez sued in a military court because of this investigation, accusing him of insulting a superior officer. The military court, to everyone's astonishment, accepted the argument and opened trial proceedings against Chávez and his key subordinates. It took a strong journalistic campaign to shame the military judges into stopping the trial. But a barrage of judicial accusations, 14 in all, accepted by corrupt judges, slowed down Chávez's investigation. He, his top lieutenants and their relatives received threatening phone calls. Chávez even had a running shoot-out with members of a band of killers for hire. He walked everywhere with a sub-machine gun ready at his side.

In 1987, before the investigation could be completed, Attorney General Elejalde was succeeded by Hugo Denegri. It soon became evident he had an unofficial but key advisor. Cautiously keeping a low profile, Vladimiro Montesinos was back again. In Denegri, he found an individual occupying a position that was well beyond his capabilities, but not beyond his ambitions for power.

Denegri sabotaged Gen. Chávez's investigation at once. In February 1987, he replaced all the prosecutors and put two of Montesinos' close friends in charge of the case. They essentially killed the investigation and accused Chávez, of all things, of drug trafficking. To no avail, both Chávez and Elejalde denounced Montesinos' role and his unseemly and close connection with Denegri. By 1988, many of the important members of the drug trafficking organization were guaranteed impunity. Montesinos now had the run of the attorney general's office, and that fact alone tremendously strengthened his position in the police and the judiciary.

Still, the armed forces remained forbidden territory for him. That year, however, an opening presented itself.

Fixing the Coverup on the Cayara Massacre

In May 1988, a Shining Path unit ambushed an army convoy in Cayara district in the southern part of Ayacucho province, the cradle of the guerrilla insurgency. By this time, the Maoist insurgents influenced significant areas in the Andes and upper jungle while at the same time gradually increasing activity in the cities. In the Cayara attack, they killed four soldiers and wounded 14 others. General José Valdivia, an artillery officer nicknamed el Mariscalito, the Little Marshal, ordered patrols to converge on the area and mete out punishment. On May 14, seven patrols entered the town of Cayara and wreaked havoc. Inside the church, where cowering townspeople had taken refuge, they separated the men from women and children and killed five men on the spot.

One of the other patrols that had fanned out into the surrounding countryside intercepted a group of peasants. They again separated the men and began a hasty interrogation-torture session, which escalated into mass murder as 24 peasants were clubbed, axed, or knifed to death. Three survived.

That night, the place swarming with soldiers, a wounded man was apprehended, along with an 80-year-old woman. They were never seen again. Four days later, Gen. Valdivia flew in a helicopter to Cayara and ordered the population to gather. He read a list of alleged Shining Path sympathizers and asked those named to step forward. None did. Later that day, however, three on the list were captured by a military patrol. Soon after being seen alive on May 20, their corpses were found.

News of the killings arrived in Lima, and the outcry was immediate. Although Peru had become one of the more notorious human rights violators in the world, press freedom and democratic institutions made it possible to investigate and sometimes to prosecute those responsible for the more blatant atrocities. In Lima, a Senate commission was appointed to investigate the massacre; and in Ayacucho, prosecutor Carlos Escobar began collecting damaging evidence on Valdivia. He was encouraged by acting Attorney General Manuel Catacora, standing in for Denegri, who was on a trip to Europe.

Valdivia was panicking. Every time he tried to erase traces of the crimes, he entangled himself further. He got into a macabre race of burying and disinterring corpses, trying to keep ahead of the prosecutor's investigation. At that point, the army high command stepped in to help with the coverup. We didn't want yet another general disgraced, said a former high ranking military officer, so we sent two generals from the second military region to tidy things up.

But Escobar's investigation had gone too far for a conventional whitewash to work. Despite the obvious personal danger, Escobar had witnesses, cohesive written testimony, and plans to dig deeper. For the military, Escobar had become the problem. At that point, Montesinos began to advise artillery officer Valdivia. Attorney General Denegri was summoned from Rome, and in July 1988, Montesinos, Denegri, and two staffers met in a Lima restaurant to plan the removal of Escobar from the case and engineer impunity for Gen. Valdivia.

At Montesinos' prodding, Denegri set up a meeting on army grounds with the defense minister, Gen. Enrique López Albújar, to propose a solution. It was agreed he would bring along an unnamed advisor. It was Montesinos. He was stopped at the gate where his photograph was on display, high and visible, with instructions to bar his access to any military installation. López Albújar was informed, and agonized over what to do. Also on hand was his own advisor, Gen. Talavera, the man who had accused Montesinos of high treason. But the stakes were too high, and he let Montesinos in.

Talavera didn't open his mouth during the lunch, but Montesinos was in a genial mood. Rather than discuss tactical details of the coverup to follow, the meeting was simply a first step in a collaboration, and in yet another comeback for Montesinos. The coverup was direct and brutal. Although the badly harassed Escobar managed to submit a report in November 1988 accusing Valdivia and demanding that he should be brought to trial, he was ordered to hand over all information and was removed from the case. Then, Montesinos surreptitiously took the Cayara file containing Escobar's reports from the prosecutors' office and delivered it to officers of Valdivia's staff, who copied it, made some changes, and planned their actions.

In December 1988, three witnesses essential to the case were assassinated by hooded men at a highway roadblock. Another witness managed to survive a while longer. Martha Cris"stomo Garc!a was assassinated in Ayacucho in September 1989. A little earlier, a prosecutor almost as ductile as his boss conducted a new review and closed the case. Prosecutor Escobar, who was persistently followed and threatened, asked the U.S. government for asylum. Valdivia's military career continued its ascent, thoroughly influenced by and indebted to Montesinos.

A Match Made in Hell

Montesinos' next move was to reestablish contact with the intelligence services. His old friends Rafael Merino and Francisco Loayza worked at the National Intelligence Service, as a senior analyst and a part-time analyst respectively. Both persuaded intelligence chief General Edwin Díaz that Montesinos could be of use.

And indeed, at the end of 1989, Montesinos presented the reluctant Díaz with his ticket back into the fold: detailed files from the attorney general's office on all people ever accused of subversive acts and on most victims of human rights abuses; seven or eight thousand of them.

Almost every day, Montesinos, now a collaborator on the SIN's payroll, arrived at the intelligence agency offices carrying packages of files, which were promptly computerized.

He was back on the inside and finally positioned to access the highest power if he could pick the right person to back. As elections to replace discredited President Alan García approached, few people in Peru doubted that writer Mario Vargas Llosa would win. At SIN, both Merino and Loayza were moonlighting as advisors to the Vargas Llosa camp.

Then, among the also-rans in the 1990 elections, an obscure candidate showed a modest increase in the polls. Alberto Fujimori, a gray academic, compensated for an un- remarkable intellect with an uncommon craftiness. Although he aimed at a Senate seat, he ran his own presidential ballot to achieve better name recognition. When he finished a surprising second, a run-off between him and Vargas Llosa was scheduled. President García directed SIN to cooperate with the candidate. Almost immediately, Fujimori needed the kind of help the intelligence agency could provide. Investigations revealed that the candidate had a plethora of embarrassing problems. The García government had given him a farm previously expropriated in the name of agrarian reform. And, more seriously, the candidate of Honesty, Technology, and Work was revealed as pertinaciously fraudulent in underpaying his taxes and undervaluing sales in the real estate business that he operated with his wife. After compiling a file, a congress deputy formally asked the attorney general to open criminal charges against the candidate.

When Fujimori's camp despaired of finding a clean way out, General Díaz ordered Montesinos to help the afflicted candidate. In a short time, more than one witness was persuaded to modify his testimony and the files were fixed by subservient prosecutors. Then, sanitized documents in hand, Montesinos went to the worried Fujimori to tell him that he no longer had a problem but a solution. The effects of that visit endure to this day.

According to a National Intelligence Service source, the sanitized documents "were given to Montesinos. It was a nice work....We looked for effect. We knew that Fujimori would be worried to death, consulting over the problem; and suddenly Vladimiro would appear with the solution which would instantly save his political life. Could the SIN begin this relationship on better footing?" Fujimori and his wife Susana were more than impressed and saw Montesinos, not SIN, as their savior. Montesinos, one can safely assume, was not unhappy with the credit, and the debt it implied. Yet, as Fujimori's political fortunes skyrocketed, he remained frightened and insecure. He became increasingly dependent on the clandestine resources that General Díaz and Montesinos could provide. Díaz offered not only his own secret polls, but also wiretapping transcriptions and updated intelligence. But it was Montesinos who, after accompanying Díaz on most of his visits, would return later alone; a nighttime semi-clandestine visitor to Fujimori's, or his sister's, home.

Maximo San Roman, Fujimori's running mate who later became president of the Senate, remembers the visits before the runoff. He came at night, close to eleven, and went straight to the house of Fujimori's sister, where Fujimori would be waiting alone. The almost nightly assignations cemented a symbiotic relationship between the paranoid outlook of the candidate and the conspiratorial feedback of the intriguer.

After Fujimori's sweeping victory, Montesinos convinced Fujimori that his life was in danger, and persuaded him to move to the Círculo Militar, the army officer's social club, which was guarded by army troops. It was a calculated gamble Montesinos won when, as Fujimori's personal advisor, he was granted open access to the army facilities from which he had been banned in disgrace. Those few who openly opposed Montesinos' reinstatement into the ranks of the respectable incurred substantial risk. Montesinos convinced the elected president of a web of plots to unseat or kill him. In a self-fulfilling prophecy, Fujimori accepted Montesinos' enemies as his own.

Montesinos Plays Mephisto

On July 28, 1990, when Fujimori became the president of Peru, Montesinos instigated the purges of those mutual enemies. One of them, army intelligence chief Colonel Rafael Córdova, for whom Montesinos' growing influence was an abomination, was peremptorily sacked from the position and sent into retirement. The new Minister of the Interior found himself with a list of close to 100 police officials to dismiss, including those who had investigated Rodríguez López, the drug-deputy del Pomar, and one of the most efficient anti-drug operatives among the police, General Juan Zárate Gambini.

People linked to Montesinos were named to crucial posts in the army, the police, and the interior and justice ministries. General Valdivia (who had been saved by Montesinos in connection with the Cayara massacre) was named head of the crucial Military Region II. He dedicated himself, along with Montesinos, to fine-tuning plans for the self-coup that would finally be executed in 1992.

Montesinos' next step in consolidating power was to neutralize those elements in the army which had thwarted his ambitions in the past. The best instrument for controlling the army was the intelligence services which he promptly upgraded. Their growth was largely inward, as increased resources were allocated for spying on army officers. Under the heavy hand of new army intelligence chief and Montesinos artillery buddy, Col. Alberto Pinto Cárdenas, intimidation reached previously unknown proportions.

Some tried to forestall Montesinos' influence. Vice-president and president of the Senate San Román warned Fujimori to get rid of that character, that the relationship could be harmful to him. But although Fujimori refused to dismiss Montesinos, he tried to keep their dealings semi-clandestine. This secrecy gave Fujimori (and, as it would turn out, also gave the CIA) a certain level of plausible deniability. And Montesinos turned secrecy into a source of strength: He literally became a man of the shadows; he could touch almost anyone from there, but no one could touch him.

Late at night, he would go straight to Fujimori's bedroom at the presidential palace. The president's military aides would see Montesinos, usually dressed in an overcoat uncommon in Lima going through the metal doors which Fujimori had installed in his private quarters. There, Fujimori's paranoia would be deliciously thrilled and policy would be made. From September to October 1990, Montesinos sat in on most meetings between the minister of defense and the joint chiefs of staff as Fujimori's personal representative. After a couple of unsubtle messages, the commanders-in-chief would patiently wait for the doctor, and then stand as he entered the room.

Gen. Díaz, realizing too late he had been used, was prodded to resign. His replacement, Brigadier Gen. Julio Salazar Monroe, who had managed to stay in active service despite consistently substandard performance, was the perfect straw man: He was clever enough to understand he was just a figurehead, yet not bright enough to get bored and quit. Montesinos' two closest associates at the time were Rafael Merino, the brains; and Pinto Cárdenas, the fangs.

By the end of 1990, no one dared openly contest Montesinos' authority in the armed forces or even less so in the police. Both he and Fujimori played the deniability game. Up to June 1991, Fujimori said that Montesinos was simply his lawyer, not a government official. Only in March 1992, after continuous grilling by the media, did he have to admit that Montesinos worked for SIN.

Strengthening Links with the CIA

As Montesinos reinforced his position, he also strengthened his relationship with the CIA. This link solidified the CIA's comeback in Peru. After Velasco had expelled the U.S. Military Mission and cut off the CIA's local antennae in the late 1960s, the Company's contacts with the Peruvian security forces were considerably weakened. Paradoxically, it was during the rhetorically anti-American Alan García regime that ties tightened again. García's right-hand man, Agustín Mantilla, forged close working relations with the Agency, and was a guest at their Langley headquarters.

Now in prison (he was arrested in the April 5 coup), Mantilla admitted that he had been aware of an intense relationship between Montesinos and the CIA, from the very beginning of Fujimori's regime, and even before. [Montesinos] regularly saw the chief of station in Lima, but he was also invited to CIA's headquarters, and he was in Langley at that time. Let's say that I am aware of an intimate relationship since 1990.

Many at the U.S. Embassy, especially those connected with the drug war, were unhappy over that collaboration and distanced themselves off-the-record: If a person offers you information, you always take it, no matter how disreputable the source. And if people offer you information which consistently turns out to be true, you take it consistently....[Montesinos] has insisted on talking only with one man, and he sees him sometimes two weeks apart. That man was the station chief in Lima, who, in the words of another U.S. diplomat was bamboozled by Montesinos. At any rate, by 1990, Montesinos, for all his drug and human rights baggage, was a prized and protected asset of the CIA.

By April 1991, because of that protection, he felt secure enough to move in and take control of the Peruvian side of the drug war. It was a classic case of the fox guarding the hen house; but secrecy and the CIA's help silenced objections.

Montesinos used his position to push the Lima office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from its lead role and to replace it with the CIA. Since 1985, when the DEA had supplied important information to Gen. Chávez on the Rodríguez López drug organization which Montesinos was then defending, the ex-drug lawyer had feared and loathed the DEA. Right on cue, in 1991, Fujimori publicly attacked the DEA, first in the Upper Huallaga, and then at the San Antonio presidential drug summit.

In September 1991, Montesinos had commandeered almost all the Peruvian side of the U.S.-Peru joint anti-drug programs. That month in a shocking surprise to the DEA and the State Department's Narcotics Assistance Unit (NAU) a SIN anti-drug arm was created and became an independent directorate. The outfit's creation wasn't even discussed, much less decided in Peru. It was decided in Washington through inter-agency meetings, in which the State Department's voice apparently didn't count much, says a former Lima-based drug warrior.

Some DEA and NAU personnel were enraged. Aside from issues of turf, the idea of Montesinos in charge of the Peruvian side of the drug war was a macabre irony. Many with long experience and good intelligence sources in Lima feared a sickening replay of the Noriega story. They held informal meetings and drafted a cable. It was never sent. Where is the proof? they were asked. You know what they mean here by proof, says the same source, a smoking gun.

The Fox Gets Control of the Chicken Coop

When some DEA agents tried to probe deeper into Montesinos' ties with traffickers, they ran into a bureaucratic stone wall. A frustrated embassy official explained U.S. government reluctance to examine Montesinos' connections with drug traffickers: If you have a son, are you going to be looking for his defects?

This disingenuousness was replicated in Washington. On June 18, 1992, Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) wrote to Assistant Secretary of State for Hemispheric Affairs Bernard Aronson: What has Montesinos' relationship been to the U.S. intelligence community, and are we not running the same risk with him in terms of the seriousness of our commitment in anti-narcotics activities that we ran with Reagan-era pal Manuel Noriega? The answer, signed on August 7 by Janet G. Mullins, then in charge of Legislative Affairs, was evasive. We do not have regular diplomatic contact with [Montesinos] and are therefore limited in what we can say. There are reports that he wields great influence with President Fujimori and with the Peruvian military. Others dispute these reports. A U.S. congressional source who investigated the matter concluded that the CIA has a relationship with him. He is a very valuable asset....This should be of great concern to us.

The new anti-drug outfit did not, of course, catch traffickers or cocaine. Its members, trained and equipped by the CIA, were used for many other purposes, such as routine human rights violations and the overthrow of democracy in the April 5 coup. In the end, the unit functioned much as a similar one did in Haiti where intelligence service anti-drug units formed and trained by the CIA ended up cosponsoring the coup that overthrew Aristide;and another in Venezuela where intelligence units trafficked drugs on their own account.

Trying to Tame the Courts and Media

As Montesinos consolidated his hold on power, the threat of media exposure constrained his ability to act. Reporting by Caretaswas particularly worrisome. Through telephone wiretapping and spying, Montesinos discovered that the magazine's editor, Enrique Zileri, was working on another expos. On June 6, 1991, Montesinos sent one of his associates, former journalist Víctor Riveros, to offer a deal in his name: He would feed Zileri a steady flow of first-rate intelligence, and in return, Caretas would not touch Montesinos.

When Zileri turned the deal down, Montesinos launched a lawsuit charging that the magazine had terribly offended him by nicknaming him Rasputin. This was the second lawsuit that Montesinos brought against Caretas. Despite the flimsiness of the charges and Caretas' extensive evidence, Montesinos now had control of the courts and was able to easily win the case. After the self-coup, those judges supportive of Montesinos were rewarded; the few who had remained independent were purged. Ombudsman Guillermo Cabala told Sam Dillon, then with the Miami Herald, that Montesinos had fired him out of personal vengeance. After this purge, the judiciary is going to be completely submissive to the executive, and by that I mean Vladimiro Montesinos, Cabala said.

Montesinos' judicial victory against Caretas boosted his intimidation capability enormously. As author Rebecca West wrote in The New Meaning of Treason: The traitor can change the community into a desert haunted by fear..., and fear was Montesinos' currency. With it he had bought direct control of the national and army intelligence services, complete with their dirty tricks and assassination teams.

A Desert Haunted by Fear

It was a resource he did not shrink from using. On the night of November 3, 1991, a group of men armed with silencer-equipped submachine guns broke into a pollada, a chicken barbecue in the Barrios Altos district, a poor, crowded neighborhood in central Lima. Although they were less than 30 meters from the police intelligence directorate's headquarters and no more than 50 meters from another police precinct, the hooded men parked their four-wheel vehicles just outside the entrance and burst into the grim multi-family building. They rounded up everyone the light of soul, the drunk, the stunned children had some lie on the floor, almost on top of each other, and began shooting at the mass of human flesh.

Counterpoint to the blasting music, one survivor remembered the silenced shots sounding like popcorn. In less than a minute, 15 people, including an eight-year-old child, had been killed in the small room. Four survived with critical wounds. *47 What remained is what you have after people are massacred in small places. Blood reaches far and high, slaughterhouse smells remain for days, bodies seem compressed one against the other.

Despite a half-hearted effort to pin blame on the Shining Path, the signatures were clear. The house had been under army intelligence surveillance since early that year. The killers all used the army's assassination weapon of choice, a silencer-equipped H & K submachine gun. They disregarded the close proximity of the police. (In fact, a troop transport, filled with soldiers, drove in front of the two police units as the assassination was taking place and left the area immediately afterwards.) And finally, the death-squad vehicles had license plates. Somebody jotted down the numbers: One was assigned to the office of Santiago Fujimori, the president's brother; the other to the office of David Mejía, the vice-minister of the interior. The police reported that the vehicles had been stolen.

The massacre was as brutally inept as the one at Cayara, only this one happened in central Lima. The outraged congress appointed a commission of inquiry, but as the prosecutor Pablo Livia was preparing to do ballistic tests with weapons belonging to army intelligence, he was taken off the case and purged after the April 5 coup.

Crossing the Rubicon

Why the massacre? That two or three people at the barbecue were believed to be Shining Path sympathizers, and the penchant for brutality shared by Pinto Cárdenas and Montesinos could have provided enough justification. It is also possible that the killing was a bridge-burning operation to push the doubtful or reluctant within Fujimori's entourage down the road to a coup d' etat.

Many members of Fujimori's entourage had come to realize that they had much to lose under a law-abiding, democratic regime. The only way to guarantee impunity was to complete the plunge into illegality. In the months that followed, several reliable military sources leaked names of the death-squad members and details of the action. In late 1992, Vice President Máximo San Román distributed intelligence notes clandestinely sent to him by dissident agents. The papers described in detail how the massacre had been planned and executed; they pointed to Montesinos as ordering the operation. One week later, Sí newsweekly ran a story, based on confidential sources, which identified the participants and the chain of command all the way to Montesinos.

After his self-coup, on receiving a request from figurehead SIN Director Julio Salazar, Fujimori promoted all the officers who had been identified as participants in the mass-murder.

With the pollada affair setting the public agenda, Montesinos and Fujimori secretly concentrated on planning the self-coup. It is now clear that, by early 1990, one of the things they had agreed on was the eventual overthrow of democracy. As the Peru Report, with well-placed sources in Peru's intelligence establishment, wrote soon after the April coup, the coup structure was also in place almost from the start of Mr. Fujimori's period in July 1990.... The objective of the coup was to seize dictatorial power and discard laws that restricted him under democratic procedure.

Only Montesinos, Fujimori, and their most immediate accomplices Peru's real chain of command were in the know. General Valdivia, for whom toppling democracy meant impunity for the Cayara massacre, was in charge of the military side. The air force and navy commanders-in-chief were kept in the dark until the eve of the coup. According to most sources, the self-coup had been planned for 1993, but a number of factors pushed up the schedule. Most problematic was the increasingly assertive parliament, which had, for instance, rejected the promotion of two close Montesinos associates, Brig. Gen. Julio Salazar Monroe and Col. Enrique Causso.

At any rate, by late March, Fujimori was sleeping less at the government palace, and more at army headquarters, where his closest companions were Montesinos, Pinto
Cárdenas, and Valdivia. There, they prepared the coup.

On April 5, 1992, General Valdivia, closely watched by Pinto Cárdenas, executed the successful coup. Democracy and the rule of law were finally overthrown after 12 immensely difficult years, betrayed from the inside. Dozens of people, including the author, who had criticized the government, were rounded up during the window of impunity which the early hours of a coup usually open. In some cases, such as those of former President Alan García (who managed to escape) and former Interior Minister Agustín Mantilla, the government tried to use those arrests to rouse popular support and justify the coup. In other instances, the arrests were naked examples of a gangster regime in action, bent on revenge. When Montesinos and Fujimori arrested this writer, they miscalculated; they had not foreseen the strong international protest which forced my release.

They also misjudged the integrity of some. Vice President San Román denounced the coup, broke with Fujimori, and was proclaimed the legitimate president of Peru by the dissolved parliament, assembled for the occasion. The nomination had only moral value, but it demanded no small amount of courage. A month later, interviewed by an Organization of American States (OAS) mission in Lima to negotiate a way out of the coup, San Román warned that if a return to democracy was not accomplished soon, the country would be handed over to drug traffickers. Any dialogue with Fujimori had only one condition: Montesinos' dismissal. He is the president in the shadows, San Román told the mission. The true ruler of Peru is Montesinos, and Fujimori is only a facade. Retired army general, Sinesio Jarama, expressed the same point with soldierly directness, I think that Montesinos...finally found his puppet.


DEA Chief Robert Bonner said CIA Smuggled Drugs

L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."—Senator John Kerry (1996)

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. -1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, CIA Headquarters
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The Oblivion Commandos

Puppeteer or ventriloquist, there he was, Montesinos, the paradigmatic pariah, finally in the center of power, unhampered by accountability. It had been a long road to power, and now power was needed to erase the path dirty and dangerous with the traces of old crimes. So the first post-coup operatives were directed to unleash amnesia.

Between April 5 and 10, while Fujimori continued to insist he had carried out the coup to end economic recession, fight drugs, and defeat the Shining Path, scores of uniformed soldiers and plainclothes military intelligence agents did the real work. By night, they entered the offices and central archives of the Palacio de Justicia, Peru's judiciary center, and the Fiscal!a de la Naci"n, the attorney general's building. Soon, the buildings echoed with the dull thud of weighty files thrown from shelves and drawers. The oblivion commandos worked through two days and nights. In order to save themselves the bother of carrying the documents down narrow flights of stairs, soldiers and spies threw the papers from a balcony into military pick-up trucks parked below. When the sacking ended and before the judicial purge began one-third of the nearly 30,000 files of active judicial cases in Peru had been removed. The buildings remained empty for days, surrounded by a ring of soldiers.

Gone were hundreds of files useful for blackmail or slander; gone were files concerning lawsuits around Fujimori and his family; and gone were all the files, not previously removed, on Montesinos. This paper purge was, in fact, one of the main reasons for the coup a coverup coup, where not only bothersome individuals, but history itself was purged.

A few days later, a more relaxed Fujimori sat at a military headquarters watching TV. On the screen was his new spokesman, Foreign Minister Augusto Blacker, an ambitious economist whose servility would soon be repaid with dismissal from the cabinet. He was explaining to the foreign press that the government of emergency and national reconstruction would last in its extra-constitutional role for 18 to 20 months. Fujimori smirked and turned to people surrounding him, among them Montesinos' close associate, Rafael Merino, He must have meant 18 years, not 18 months! Some weeks later, as Fujimori was lulling the OAS general assembly with promises of a prompt return to democracy, military intelligence agents were busily distributing a leaflet in Lima: Under a picture of the dictator, the title said it all: Fujimori: President for life of Peru.

The folded leaflet, signed by an ad-hoc New Dawn Movement, was as close as Montesinos ever came to delivering his own political manifesto. "So, [Fujimori] used force and this is supposedly an evil thing because it is illegal? What did they want! ...Is it not true that in the origin of all modern states, might always preceded right? Political freedom is only a relative idea....With an audacious coup, Pisistratus took the citadel and prepared Pericles's century. Brutus violated the constitution, expelled the Tarquin, and founded, through knifings, a republic whose greatness is the most magnificent spectacle ever witnessed in the universe....When did the kingdoms of Spain, France, and Germany become powerful? Wasn't it with the likes of Leon I, Jules II, Philip II, Louis XIV, Napoleon? Men all with a terrible fist, leaning more on their swords' pommels than on their countries' constitutions...and if we need contemporary examples, we'll find plenty of them: Spain, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Chile, etc. They are now happy and prosperous democracies, only thanks to previous authoritarian regimes."

To graft that happiness to Peru's future, it continued, we need to centralize authority and command, but mostly, we need a continuity in power, or, what is the same, a president for life.

To the Victor

All that was left was for Montesinos to savor in public the fruits of the victory he had engineered, by necessity, in secret. The moment came some weeks into the dictatorship. Brushing aside the rejection of the already closed legislature, Fujimori promoted Salazar Monroe to full general and Colonel Causso to brigadier general. After the open ceremony at army headquarters, all the generals, one by one, walked the line to where Montesinos, the only man in civilian clothes, stood, and paid their respects to the man who counted, the godfather. This was victory.

A few still resisted and spoke out from Caretas and other magazines, to the main political parties, to Máximo San Román, who reiterated his worry that the country is falling into the hands of a Mafia. But acknowledgment of Montesinos' influence ran beyond the fawning line of generals at the ceremony. Former enemies who had spoken openly against him would now become wet with fright if he, or Pinto, or even Merino addressed a pointed, or passing, remark mentioning them, their property, their families. All the generals now had to hide their terror behind enthusiastic allegiance and servile obeisance. As Sir John Harrington wrote long ago:

"Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason? For if it prosper, none dare call it treason."

The U.S. administration, initially flustered, shrugged off the violation of democracy with mumblings about realpolitik and legitimized the coup. Fujimori was the name of the game, the only game in town, the same old our son-of-a-bitch game.

Montesinos Publicly Linked to Human Rights Crimes

Even then, at the beginning of 1993, Vladimiro Montesinos' name and the extent of his power, however shadowy, were open secrets. Then in April and May, two extraordinary revelations surrounding yet another horrific human rights violation forced them irrevocably into the public glare. On July 18, 1992, a professor and nine students from the Enrique Guzmán y Valle teachers' college (La Cantuta) had been abducted by armed men and never again seen alive. Although pressure from press, human rights groups, and family members kept the case itself from dying, it languished with hundreds of other human rights violations in a purgatory of official denials and neglect.

Then, at the beginning of April 1993, Henry Pease, an opposition congressmember, read a document signed Sleeping Lion. Members of this clandestine group of active duty officers were disgusted by the politics of disappearance and assassination. They detailed the crime of La Cantuta: The Colina death squad kidnapped the ten, murdered them, and then hurriedly buried, disinterred, and reburied the bodies. The document named the death squad members, beginning with its operational chief, Major Santiago Martín Rivas,and revealed that it operated under orders from the de facto head of the National Intelligence Service, Vladimiro Montesinos, and army chief Hermoza. According to Sleeping Lion, the Colina group had carried out various other murders in addition to those at La Cantuta, including the November 1991 urban massacre at the barbecue in the Barrios Altos section of Lima. (This crime had also been independently linked back to Montesinos almost from the moment it took place.)

The painstakingly detailed Sleeping Lion document forced the constituent assembly to create an investigative commission. After testifying before it on April 20, 1993, Gen. Hermoza verbally attacked the opposition members on the commission and accused them of collusion with terrorism. The next day, tank units began parading through the streets of Lima in an open demonstration of power. The assembly backed off.

It was into this tinderbox of repression and fear that Gen. Rodolfo Robles a man who clearly had privileged access to information threw a lighted torch. On May 6, 1993, the well-respected commander of the army's academic centers, the third man from the top of the Peruvian army hierarchy, made a gesture without precedent in the history of his institution. As he was about to be kicked upstairs to the institutional oblivion of a Washington posting and his sons trans- ferred to the guerrilla zones, Robles went to the U.S. Embassy, where he was joined by his family, and asked for asylum.

At a hastily called news conference, his wife read an eight-page handwritten letter from her husband which expressed the profound emotion of a decision made at high personal cost. The general, it announced, was leaving the institution to which I have dedicated 37 years of my life, from the age of 16, in order to denounce

"an intolerable degradation for a soldier and for a man, which is related to the systematic violation of the human rights of the Peruvian population on the part of a group of thugs who, under the orders of the ex-army captain Vladimiro Montesinos Montesinos [sic] and the servile approval of EP [Peruvian Army] General Nicolás de Bari Hermoza Ríos, the unworthy commanding general of the EP, are committing crimes that are unjustly smearing all of the glorious Peruvian army."

"[I] denounce the following before my people: The crime of La Cantuta, in which a professor and ten [sic] students of this university were victimized, was committed by a special intelligence detachment that operates under the direct orders of the presidential advisor and virtual chief of the SIN, Vladimiro Montesinos Montesinos [sic], and whose activity is coordinated with the Army Intelligence Service (SIE) and with the Intelligence Directorate (DINTE) of the army, but is approved and always known by the commanding general of the army. "

A few weeks later, from his exile in Buenos Aires, Robles added, surprisingly, the name of his principal source: Gen. Willy Chirinos, who, for a short time some weeks after the La Cantuta kidnapping, had been the director of army intelligence. According to Robles, Chirinos had tried to deactivate the Colinas death squad, but was first thwarted and then fired by Montesinos.

The effect of his asylum request and denunciations was explosive. With this act of defiance, Robles transformed a grimly routine disappearance case into what Americas Watch Investigator for the Andean Region, Robin Kirk, called, the most important human rights case since the beginning of the internal war in Peru in 1980, not because of the number of corpses or the gravity of the affair, but because it is the case where the relationship to the executive is the clearest....In the other cases, they came to [identify the responsibility] of the commanding officer. In La Cantuta, it was politics at the highest level.

Digging Up the Evidence

Still the Fujimori administration stonewalled. On July 8, 1993, however, almost a year after the kidnappings, and three months after Robles' denunciation, the independent magazine Si received a map pinpointing a clandestine grave in the Cieneguilla district adjacent to Lima, allegedly containing the remains of some of the victims of La Cantuta.

Now the coverup began in earnest. Refusing to investigate, Fujimori-appointee, Attorney General Blanca Nélida Colán, threatened the editor of Sí with prosecution. At the same time, the anti-terrorist police produced detainees who, it claimed, were Shining Path members who had delivered the map to Si as part of an elaborate propaganda hoax. (The man charged with concocting the map was held for a year despite a complete lack of evidence. Eventually the regime was forced to release him, but not to acknowledge the injustice.)

But in the end, the dead spoke. In the common grave at Cieneguilla among the half-burned human remains was a key chain with four keys. Raida Cóndor, mother of Armando, one of the disappeared students, recognized it as her son's.

Rumors were rife that the police and justice officials would attempt to alter the keys, despite their having been photographed by the press. Finally, growing national and international pressure forced the justice official in charge of the case to test the keys. They fit and also unlocked the door to the coverup. In a relatively short time, other graves containing the remains of the disappeared were discovered. Fujimori announced in an interview with the New York Times that some army officers were under arrest. Then, in a hurried process with a military tribunal, the death squad members were sentenced to various prison terms. The army itself, however, continued day by day to centralize under Hermoza's command, and the intelligence services remained under the control of the now very notorious but still unofficial Vladimiro Montesinos.

The Future of Democracy

The climate of intimidation has begun to lose its oppressive capacity. In October 1993, a constitutional referendum organized by Fujimori to legitimize his regime ended with the democratic opposition gaining a healthy 47 percent of the vote.

Since then, the independent press has continued to reinvigorate itself and Fujimori's position has been further eroded. Even surveys conducted by pollsters close to the regime now give a clear lead to a man who, at this point, looks likely to become the opposition candidate former U.N. Secretary General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar. International pressure has forced the regime to back down from its previous hardline agenda and assume the unconvincing image of a kinder, gentler Fujimori.

Montesinos himself has had some failures to lament. He tried to steal credit for the capture of the Shining Path leader Abimael Guzmán. In fact, the anti-terrorist police, commanded by Gen. Antonio Ketín Vidal, tracked down and arrested the elusive guerrilla leader. After Ketín informed the press of this feat, Montesinos was so furious, he promptly engineered Ketín's removal.

Then, Montesinos' plan to pull a psywar victory backfired. He met often with Guzmán in his cell and persuaded him, by means unknown, to write letters to Fujimori asking for peace negotiations. The first two letters were timed for release just before the October 1993 referendum on the constitution. The move turned out to be totally counterproductive for Fujimori. It not only helped the opposition, but also harmed the army's counterinsurgency strategy. Guzmán's call for negotiations was seen as capitulation. It distanced him from the largely reorganized Shining Path leadership and energized the guerrilla attacks.

Fiascos and setbacks aside, both Fujimori and Montesinos are still firmly entrenched. It remains to be seen whether, if Fujimori is defeated at the 1995 election, they will surrender power peaceably. If history is any guide, there is reason for worry. Fujimori and his Svengali might once again trample legality and democracy as they did in 1992.

DEA Chief Robert Bonner said CIA Smuggled Drugs

L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."—Senator John Kerry (1996)

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. -1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, CIA Headquarters
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Gustavo Gorriti
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The Meaning of Montesinos
Gustavo Gorriti, Peruvian Journalist
Monday, December 18, 2000 at 1 p.m. EST

Vladimir Montesinos, ousted as chief Peru's intelligence service in September, spent 10 years wielding enormous power behind the scenes in Peru and winning praise of U.S. officials. Now he is a virtual fugitive under investigation for selling guns to leftist rebels and laundering $58 million in Swiss bank accounts.

Gustavo Gorriti, now a journalist in Panama, has followed Montesinos's remarkable career for more than a decade. He will talk about the man, the source of his power in Peru, the allegations of murder and drug trafficking that shadow him, and his future.

Gorritti is the author of "The Shining Path: a History of the Millenarian War in Peru" (University of North Carolina Press.) He was the 1992 winner of the Maria Moors Cabot Prize awarded by the Columbia School of Journalism. He won the King of Spain Journalism Prize in 1996. In 1998, the Committee to Protect Journalists gave him its International Press Freedom Award.

Submit your questions for Gustavo Gorriti now.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.

washingtonpost.com: There were news reports over the weekend suggesting that Vladimir Montesinos had been seen in Costa Rica and the Carribean. So let us begin our discussion of Montesinos by asking Gustavo Gorriti: Can you tell us the latest on what is known about his whereabouts?

washingtonpost.com: There were news reports over the weekend suggesting that Vladimir Montesinos had been seen in Costa Rica and the Carribean. So let us begin our discussion by asking Gustavo Gorriti: Can you tell
us the latest on what is known about Montesinos and his future?

Gustavo Gorriti: According to the testimony of some of his bodyguards, Montesinos was last seen when he left the yacht that brought him from Peru and the Galapagos to Coco island, off Costa Rica. His yacht met another at night, somewhere in between Coco and mainland Costa Rica. According to a Costa Rica minister, he left that country headed for Aruba. Aruban officials, though, have denied that Montesinos ever entered their territory. Most versions concur that he was headed towards Venezuela, whose government, as was to be expected, has also denied having him.

washingtonpost.com: Do you think that he is still shopping for political asylum?

Gustavo Gorriti: I think he's shopping for a safer status than political asylum. It's either a protected life under an assumed identity or the possibility of assuming the role of, say, president Chavez's advisor. He is also thinking hard, without a doubt, about his coming back to Peru.

washingtonpost.com: Can Montesinos realistically think that he would be safe from prosecution in Peru? For example, does he have enough parliamentary allies to secure amnesty?

Gustavo Gorriti: Not now. Not in the current political climate. The members of parliament he bought would be extremely afraid of giving him overt support. The same goes for prosecutors. Covertly, though, he might still have ample room for maneuvering.

Washington D.C.: Montesinos as President Chavez's adviser? You've gotta be kidding.

Gustavo Gorriti: Some people thought the same when rumors had him as president Fujimori's adviser in 1990. I am not saying he is Chavez's adviser now, but Chavez fits perfectly well the profile of somebody Montesinos would want to advise, and would find the way, if given the opportunity, of making himself indispensable

Washington D.C.: What was the exact relationship between Fujimori and Montesinos? Is Fujimori a willing accomplice, or did he just look the other way?

Gustavo Gorriti: To call it complex would be almost an understatement. Fujimori was so thoroughly bamboozled by Montesinos that it is sometimes hard to decide on whether he was a willing accomplice all the way or whether he was consistently fooled throughout his periods. In the end, of course, Fujimori emerges as an accomplice, sometimes pathetic but an accomplice anyway.

Washington D.C.: 1 - How can Peru get Alberto Fujimori back for questioning?

2 - Is there any chance that Fujimori and / or Vladimiro Montesinos can be brought to justice in another country, like Pinochet?

3 - Many people in Peru seem to fear the return of former president Alan Garcia. Is he as dangerous as people make him out to be?

4 - Why are Peru's political parties so disorganized? Why are they having so much difficulty forming a united front to govern the country?

Gustavo Gorriti: That's a very difficult proposition now. Japan does not give up on its citizens very easily, and Fujimori-san is, it's official now, a Japanese citizen

washingtonpost.com: To follow up on the last questioners second query: What do you see as the chances of Montesinos and/or Fujimori being prosecuted in another country?

Gustavo Gorriti: As for Fujimori, he probably won't risk meeting Spanish judge Baltazar Garzon if he can help it. So I don't see him getting a lot of frequent flyer miles in the near future, barring some short visits to his pal, Muhatir Muhammad in Malaysia. With Montesinos, hopes are brigther, due to the fortunate circumstance of his not being a Japanese citizen.

Panama, Rep. of Panama: Why [did it take] so long for the world to realise who Montesinos really was? Do you think the "marcha de los cuatro suyos" and Toledo´s campaign contributed in any way to Montesinos´ downfall?[edited]

Gustavo Gorriti: a) Because very few people or institutions, including those that should have been concerned, wanted to know Montesinos's dark background. Fujimori's regime was seen as a success story (free markets, defeat of the Shining Path, etc.) and therefore any substantial information that would disfigure that stereotype was ignored or dismissed. Montesinos's very close relationship with the CIA also played a major role.
b) Yes. I believe that Toledo's campaign brought to light a national mood of rejection of the dictatorship. It was seen clearly that the majority of the people stood strongly against Fujimori; and the Marcha de los 4 Suyos also demonstrated that Toledo movilized the fervor of the people and that Fujimori's regime had no other protection than sheer military force and the extremely dirty tricks of Montesinos's intelligence service.

Baltimore, Maryland: I would like to know just why so much fuss is being made over this Montesinos. He is being made to sound like some sort of super-sleuth who has the secrets on lots of people and is poised to bring a lot of them down with him. I say he's more like Luis Roldan, the first civilian head of the Spansh Civil Guard who absconded secret funds and vanished until he was found hiding out in Southeast Asia. Roldan turned out to be nothng more than a banal, petty thief, a chorizo, as they say in Spain. Isn't Montesinos of the same ilk?

Gustavo Gorriti: I wish he was like Roldan. Roldan never ruled a country behind the scenes, as Montesinos did; and the amount of funds he absconded with, really makes him a petty thief compared with Montesinos's kleptocracy.
And the fact is, yes, that he has the dirty secrets of just too many politicians and business people in Peru. Most of those embarrasing secrets were on tape. I am told they are on DVD now.

Sacramento, California: Do you feel safe from Montesinos now in Panama, or do you still worry he can send someone to harm you?

Did you know the torture took place in the Peruvian Pentagon in downtown Lima? If you were a woman, the military would line up and sexually abuse you, putting a magnum to your head and then insist you perform oral sex on them. Then they would torture you using a variety of techniques: electric shocks, the submarino, threatening to sear your eyeballs with a molten hot knife. Finally, they would leave you for dead, if you weren't already, on the beach. Will you write about this horrible chapter in Peruvian history in your next book? [edited]

Gustavo Gorriti: I was held in the "Pentagonito" after being seized and "disappeared" in the aftermath of the April 5, 1992 coup. I wasn't tortured, maybe because the international outcry brought about by ny detention forced them to release me. But a few years later, former intelligence agent Leonor La Rosa was held in the same place and brutally tortured. A colleague of hers, Mariella Barreto, was murdered and beheaded. In both cases, Montesinos and his people wanted to stop the information leaks from their service to investigative journalists

Arlington, VA: What's it like being a journalist covering such a dangerous beat? Does your life ever get threatened?

Gustavo Gorriti: It was threatened often. Threats by themselves do not harm you, but can make life pretty difficult, especially when they extend to your family. Which was my case.
As a journalist, I felt that I had no choice but to continue investigating these people and never showing any fear. After all, I knew that my being a journalist entailed a certain form of protection, in the sense that they would have to think hard before committing themselves to actual action. And I saw people who risked everything to let facts be known, who had no protection at all. They continued taking risks even after the horror of the La Rosa and Barreto's cases. How could a journalist not do his work under those circumstances?

Near Waco, Texas:
I read that Fujimori's daughter had an American Express credit card paid for by a fraudulent Montesinos company based in Panama. Did La Prensa uncover that information?

I was informed that when narcotrafficers were caught by Montesinos and the military, it was often an elaborate performance (worked out between the military and the drug traffikers) for the United States to demonstrate success and guarantee that US "combating drug" funds would continue to flow ... ultimately, into Montesinos pockets. Do you have any information regarding this and who will take Montesinos place in this complex nexus of drugs, military and the CIA?

As you know, Montesinos was courted by the CIA for quite some time. Do you have any more information about the nature of their relationship? Did Montesinos attend our School of Americas? [edited]

Gustavo Gorriti: a) That information was first uncovered in a television news program in Lima. We reproduced it at La Prensa.
b) Montesinos, as Panama's Noriega in the past, could provide performances to satisfy all sides. On the one hand, they had an aerial interdiction program that brought quite good results in interdicting the aerial cocaine bridge between Peru and Colombia. On the other hand, he could protect, with precise tactical information, those traffickers willing to pay the steep protection fees he charged. For those American officials supporting the relationship with Montesinos, there were always the right statistics at hand, with numbers impressive enough to dismiss the other side of the coin as unproved allegations.
Montesinos was not just courted by the CIA. He worked closely with American intelligence since the 1970's. In the 1990's the relationship was reassumed and promptly he wasn't anymore just a highly placed "asset" but "Mr. Fixit" himself.

washingtonpost.com: Will U.S policymakers pay a price for their support of Montesinos? Specifically, how do you think future Peruvian governments will respond to U.S.-sponsored war on drug producers in Colombia?

Gustavo Gorriti: Unfortunately, I think that most hard-earned lessons in the relationship between Montesinos and the US government will be unheeded. Peru's new government (not the present caretaker regime, but the one that will take office on July 28 next year) will face so many urgent chores and tasks to solve and will need so desperately the United States' support that I don't think it will have the will to bring Montesinos's issue to the fore. As for the U.S., if experience shows us anything, is that American policymakers, and certainly American spooks, will always seek expediency, without great regard for other considerations. Noriega, Cedras and many others in the recent past, can attest to that. So, it is for us Peruvians, I think, to never let this issue go until Montesinos is brought to justice.

washingtonpost.com: Unfortunately, our time is up. Many thanks to Gustavo Gorriti for his insights and to everybody who sent in questions. A transcript of this discussion will be posted shortly in the World section of washingtonpost.com To stay up to the minute on international news from a Washington perspective, bookmark http://www.washingtonpost.com/world



DEA Chief Robert Bonner said CIA Smuggled Drugs

L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."—Senator John Kerry (1996)

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. -1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, CIA Headquarters
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Chávez reignites war of words with Bush
Accuses DEA of supporting drug trafficking

                                        Agencies in Caracas
Monday August 8, 2005
The Guardian
                Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez escalated his war of words with America yesterday, when he accused the US drug enforcement administration (DEA) of spying, and said Venezuela was suspending cooperation with the agency.

Mr Chávez, who regularly accuses the US of plotting against him, said "the DEA is not absolutely necessary for the fight against drug trafficking."

The DEA was using the fight against drug trafficking as a mask to support drug trafficking and to carry out intelligence in Venezuela against the government, Mr Chávez told reporters.


"Under those circumstances we decided to make a clean break with those accords, and we are reviewing them," Mr Chávez said, referring to the cooperative agreements under which the DEA has operated in Venezuela.

Prosecutors last month opened an investigation into the DEA's activities in Venezuela. "We have detected intelligence infiltration that threatened national security and defence," Mr Chávez said.

While he recognised that Venezuela is a transit point for Colombian cocaine, Mr Chávez said Venezuela's armed forces have made important advances against trafficking.

"We will continue working with international organisations against drug trafficking," he said.

Mr Chávez said specifics of the DEA decision will be announced soon. Mr Chávez's comments were the most specific to date on the accusations against the US agency.

The US ambassador, William Brownfield, said last week in a radio interview that the US hoped to maintain cooperative anti-drug efforts in Venezuela, and that without them "there is only one group that wins, and that group is the drug traffickers".

Mr Chávez sharply criticised US policy on drugs, saying that while the US is the world's top consumer of drugs, its government does little to try to lessen consumption.

He also criticised the US Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation of not doing enough to catch drug kingpins in the US.

The accusations were the latest in a series of rhetorical clashes between Mr Chávez and American officials.

The US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, has called Venezuela a "negative force" in Latin America and accuses Mr Chávez of turning it into a totalitarian society.

Last month saw the launch of Telesur, a pan-Latin American television channel based in Caracas. The channel's promotors describe it as an antidote to US media domination, but American politicians say it is a vehicle for anti-US propaganda.

Even before the channel was launched, the House of Representatives voted to enable the US to broadcast its own signals into Venezuela in retaliation. In response, Mr Chávez threatened to launch "electronic warfare" with the US.

Relations between Venezuela and the US have been tense since Mr Chávez took office in 1999. Mr Chávez accuses the CIA of involvement in the military coup that briefly deposed him in 2002, and in February said that President Bush was plotting to assassinate him.

US officials dismissed the accusations as ridiculous, but the White House gave implicit support to the coup attempt and has done little to hide its displeasure with Mr Chávez.

Despite frequent harsh words between governments, Venezuela remains a major supplier of oil to the US.

DEA Chief Robert Bonner said CIA Smuggled Drugs

L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA's Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."—Senator John Kerry (1996)

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. -1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, CIA Headquarters
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