Judge Slaps Gag Order on Trial of 7 Deputies
October 24, 1990|VICTOR MERINA | TIMES STAFF WRITER
The federal judge in the money-skimming trial of seven Los Angeles County sheriff's narcotics officers Tuesday clamped a gag order on participants after a defense attorney persisted in linking the case to allegations that drug money was used to fund Central Intelligence Agency operations.
Harland Braun, who represents Deputy Daniel M. Garner, had told reporters--without providing evidence--that the U.S. government was laundering drug money for South American cartels and siphoning some of the cash for its own clandestine operations abroad.
In contesting an attempt by prosecutors to restrain himself and others from talking to the media, Braun has claimed in court papers that in 1986 his client searched the Southern California home of a CIA agent who had ties to a major drug- and money-laundering ring.
According to Braun, the unnamed suspect acknowledged that he was a CIA agent and the narcotics officers discovered "numerous documents indicating that drug money was being used to purchase military equipment for Central America." In particular, he said, deputies found links to the funding of Contra rebels fighting the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.
Shortly after deputies seized the documents and booked the material as evidence, however, federal agents "swooped down" on the Sheriff's Department headquarters and removed the recovered property, as well as other records of the search and seizure, Braun said.
One officer who was at the search scene with Garner, but asked not to be identified, told The Times that the suspect asked the deputies if he could make a phone call to his CIA contact in Virginia. He purportedly was allowed to make the call.
"It was strange, because here we are chasing this drug dealer and we end up with this guy," said the officer, who added that the man was not arrested because no drugs were found at his home.
Peter Earnest, a CIA spokesman in Washington, said the agency's policy was not to comment on anything under litigation. However, without commenting specifically on the allegations contained in Braun's affidavit, Earnest added: "The CIA has not and has never been directly involved in laundering drug money."
Undersheriff Robert Edmonds called the assertions "preposterous" and said Tuesday he was unaware of either the 1986 case or Braun's version of events.
"I've got to tell you that I would be startled if federal agents swooped down on one of our stations and I wasn't aware of it," Edmonds said. "I would be rather astounded if this has any credibility in fact."
U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie, who is presiding over the trial of Garner and six other narcotics officers, chastised Braun for raising the matter in opposing the gag order.
In seeking the restraining order, federal prosecutors claimed defense attorneys were making prejudicial comments about the case in which the narcotics officers are accused of skimming $1.4 million in drug money, evading taxes and various other charges.
Prosecutors singled out Braun's comments about the alleged CIA connection with laundered drug money and Nicaraguan Contra rebels as irrelevant to the case and a subject that "will serve only to confuse the jury and waste time."
Rafeedie also suggested that the allegation was irrelevant and said he had been uncertain whether to grant the gag order until he read Braun's legal brief, which he described as a ruse to get the CIA story before the media.
"Even if everything you say in the document is true, it has nothing to do with whether your client has filed a false income tax return or has (unexplained) expenditures," Rafeedie said.
In his court document, Braun maintained that the CIA agent questioned by deputies had ties to "the Blandon family which was importing narcotics from Central America to the United States." He did not identify the family further.
In his court filing, Braun said that he had asked for--and never received--a letter from federal officials stating explicitly that no drug money was used by the U.S. government or any government agency to purchase weapons for the Contras or for weapons to be traded for hostages in Iran.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Thomas A. Hagemann, one of the prosecutors in the deputies' trial, would not comment directly on the allegations. But in his own court papers, Hagemann said prosecutors would seek to exclude court testimony about "any alleged CIA plot."
"Such matters are entirely extraneous to this case and would be nothing more than a 'smoke screen' to divert the jury's attention from the issues which are properly before it," he wrote.
Garner and some of the other deputies on trial have said that, as part of their job, they sometimes worked with federal agencies on money-laundering cases that would actually send drug money back to the cartels as part of the undercover operation.
After receiving tips from informants that large sums of money needed to be laundered, federal agents would alert local undercover operatives such as sheriff's narcotics deputies who would pose as money launderers and meet the drug trafficker's representative, they said. After turning the money over to federal officials--who would actually launder it--other deputies would follow the trafficker in hopes of uncovering more of his drug operation.
Testifying Tuesday, Robert R. Sobel, a former sheriff's sergeant and the prosecution's chief witness, said his deputies were told by federal agents whether to follow a money courier, seize the cash or arrange for the money to be laundered by federal agencies.
"And to keep up the credibility of the informant, they would launder money back to the cartel?" Braun asked.
"That's right," Sobel replied.
Times staff writer Tracy Wilkinson contributed to this story
"Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the DOJ at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the LA Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities. According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central L.A., around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Vol II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the DOJ, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles." Maxine Waters Oct, 1998https://fas.org/irp/congress/1998_cr/h981013-coke.htm
Former British Ambassador Craig Murray describes drug proceeds funding covert operations in Ecuador..... http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2012/11/hilarcia-plot-against-correa-funded-by-drug-money/
by craig on November 9, 2012 2:59 pm in Uncategorized
Hillary Clinton is repeating the methodology of the Iran/Contra affair, using “black” funds to finance the operation to ensure President Correa is not re-elected.
I had two excellent sources for the news that the US/UK strategy against Julian Assange was to ensure the defeat of President Correa in Presidential elections next spring, and then have him expelled from the Ecuadorean Embassy. One source was within the UK civil service and one in Washington. Both had direct, personal access to the information I described. Both told me in the knowledge I would publish it.
Of course Assange is not the only reason Clinton wants rid of Correa; but it adds spice and urgency.
We now have completely independent evidence from Chile that this CIA operation exists, from journalists who were investigating a smuggling operation involving 300 kg per month of cocaine, organised by the Chilean army and security services.
The links to US intelligence emerged after an anonymous source from the Agencia Nacional de Inteligencia (ANI) told Panoramas News that the smuggling of 300 kilos of cocaine was in fact a highly sensitive CIA/DEA operation that would help to raise money to topple the government of Ecuador. The operation is similar to the one carried out by the Agency in Central America during the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980’s, the source said.
A few days ago I published information I had received that Patricio Mery Bell, the director of the news programme which broke the story, had been lured to a meeting with a young lady “informant” who had worked with CIA-backed anti-Cuban groups in Miami. She had then accused him of sexual assault (does any of that scenario sound familiar?) He was arrested and his materials had been confiscated. However I took the article down after jst a few minutes because I had received the information in emails from sources I did not know previously, and was unsure it could stand up. It does now appear that this is indeed true.
My Washigton informant had told me, as I published, that the funds for the anti-Correa operation were not from the CIA budget but from secret funds controlled by the Pentagon. This could not be done by CIA funds because, perhaps surprisingly, for the CIA to operate in this way is a crime in the United States.
Whether my informant knew or suspected that the “secret Pentagon funds” were drug money I do not know. They did not mention narcotics.
Adolfo Calero dies at 80; tied to Iran-Contra scandal
The onetime Coca-Cola executive led the largest anti-Sandinista Contra rebel force in 1980s Nicaragua.
June 04, 2012|By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Timeshttp://articles.latimes.com/2012/jun/04/local/la-me-adolfo-calero-20120604
An American Contra : The Confused Life and Mysterious Death of Steven Carr
May 31, 1987|MICHAEL FESSIER JR. | Michael Fessier Jr. is the author of "In Search of the Chicken Cackler and Other Unlikely Missions," to be published by Capra Press.
WAR MAY BE HELL BUT THE idea persists that only by experiencing it can man fully test himself, find out what his real dimensions are. In the movie "Platoon," Chris Taylor, played by Charlie Sheen, has left the order and purpose and safety of college to fight in the jungles of Vietnam. He is trying to pull himself out of the dreamy modern state of being not quite real, of feeling like a "fake human being." Steven Paul Carr had similar hopes for war. His brother had fought in Vietnam, and over and over, almost by rote (it became a kind of catechism), Steven Carr would tell people how much he hated "missing" Vietnam: "I would have gone in a minute."
By 24 Carr had been ejected from both the Army and Navy. He had a serious problem with cocaine and alcohol. As a high school dropout with a prison record and no real profession, he was what many consider the archetype of the contemporary soldier of fortune: a man with a great deal to prove and nothing to lose.
MELVIN K. ARNOLD COULD NOT hide his contempt for the man whose "equivocal death" had caused him such aggravation. To the Los Angeles Police Department homicide detective, the deceased was ordinary human flotsam, a young man, 27, who just couldn't hack the straight world, who got into cocaine and showed up dead. Arnold, 42, is a tense, busy, combative man with pale-blue eyes. The dead do not by virtue of being dead automatically engage his sympathy. One of the many reasons he had for not liking Steven Carr was the Marine Corps tattoo on Carr's left shoulder, described in the autopsy as "a polychromatic tattoo showing a skull with a dagger in its mouth, surrounded by red flames and the words 'USMC Death Before Dishonor.' "
"He was never in the Marine Corps," Arnold noted with heavy irony.
Arnold's phone is always ringing. It rang again. It was the FBI looking for a Gypsy with a glass eye. Arnold switched the call to the Gypsy expert at a nearby desk in his crowded Van Nuys Civic Center office and got back to Steven Carr. "I'll tell you the one true thing about Steven Carr: He was a snitch." Arnold paused for emphasis. "Out of all those who were involved in that stuff down in Costa Rica he was the only one who talked."
Here lay the crux of the judgment, then: In addition to claiming, via the tattoo, to be something he wasn't, Carr was also the thing that a policeman most depends on and most despises--a snitch, a turncoat. Then add the clincher--all the attention that Carr's death had attracted (causing all that aggravation to Arnold)--and you had the source of what the detective was feeling. "It's a prime example of how things get blown out of proportion and rumors and innuendoes cause such turmoil."
Carr, who had collapsed in an apartment house driveway in Panorama City, was pronounced dead at 4:05 on the morning of last Dec. 13. He was wearing a blue robe and gray shorts. A preliminary report filed by a coroner's investigator at 6:40 the same morning suggested that his death might have been either an accident or a suicide: "A possible o.d., cocaine," the investigator had scribbled. No note was found.
It was an "equivocal death," and Mel Arnold was assigned to investigate. The phone calls began. The first was from a lawyer for the Christic Institute, a liberal legal foundation in Washington, D.C. (It brought the successful Karen Silkwood suit against Kerr-McGee). The second was from the dead man's brother. The third was from the office of Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.). After that the reporters started in.
But what was this all about? It was a lot to put together from Mel Arnold's Van Nuys desk. Who was this guy to have Time and Newsweek, Mother Jones and the Nation, the New York Times, Spin, the Village Voice, the New Republic, Sen. Kerry and the Christic Institute so intently interested in the circumstances of his death? The final autopsy would take five weeks, and before its release stories circulated of arsenic found in his bloodstream and traces of caustic substances in his throat. There was a lot of talk of three inexplicable puncture wounds on his elbow.
Carr had ridden with an illegal arms shipment from Florida to El Salvador. He had fought briefly alongside some \o7 contras\f7 in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and he had talked to the press about his experiences. The suspicion was that he had been killed to prevent him from talking anymore and that a cover-up of some sort was being used to disguise this fact. Mel Arnold had no use for this suggestion.
Arnold is a marathon runner. On the wall behind his desk is a poster featuring a large running shoe and the line: "Worn and Tired but Worth It." A busy man, he began eating an early lunch at his desk. In five minutes he was due at a meeting. "Any more questions?" he asked.
THERE WERE ALL THESE military-minded men and no war at hand. Many were Cubans, members of Miami's Cuban League or Brigade 2506, men still looking to get even for what happened April 17, 1961, on Cuba's Gibron Beach at the Bahia de Cochinos. Many of the others in the scattered free-lance army Lt. Col. Oliver L. North was channeling funds to under his "Project Democracy" banner were older men who'd had a successful war of their own but often acted as if they'd enjoy another. John Hull, 66, was one of these. He is an American--from Indiana--and for 20 years has been a prominent cattle rancher and farmer in Costa Rica. A key contra supporter and reported CIA go-between, Hull had been a flying ace in the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II. "I went to fight fascists in 1939, and now I'm fighting communism in Nicaragua," he has said.
Added to the Cubans and vets like Hull and retired Maj. Gen. John K. Singlaub were the free-floaters, young men inspired by their fathers' war experiences. Or, as in Steven Carr's case, a brother's.
The Steven Carr who joined this shadow army was a little slumped, expressionless, yet somehow cocky at the same time, a not-young 24, with a receding hairline and the beer belly of a middle-aged man. He had failed at everything, and even his dream of military glory seemed shopworn. "It's not so much I want to kill people," he later told a reporter, "but finding a war is about the only way I'm going to find out what I'm capable of."
He was just out of prison in late 1984 when Project Democracy was getting off the ground, and he was shopping for a war. He'd already tried the peacetime Army, the Navy, the Marines and the merchant marine. In his teens he'd been a Sea Scout and a plane spotter for the Civil Air Patrol, and the only class he had liked was ROTC. High school had been a washout: "I majored in parking lot," he said. He'd dropped out in the 11th grade to join the Army. He was discharged after a year for alcohol-related offenses. Discipline was not his thing. (Stationed in Korea, he had once opened fire with a machine gun on the DMZ for no particular reason.) The Marines wouldn't have him, and after three months in the Navy he was discharged for selling marijuana.
He often seemed two people at once. One of them was soberly middle class, politically conservative and eager to please. His father was an IBM executive painfully removed from Steven's life when Steven was 7 and his parents divorced. He grew up in the tidy, affluent tourist and retirement community of Naples, Fla. He believed in Ronald Reagan and his causes. The other Steven Carr was always defying authority, always escaping, always in trouble.
Carr's brother, Edward, 10 years older, had hated the war in Vietnam, and even went into combat with "Make Love Not War" decals on his helmet. He came out with a 100% disability pension, a bitter and unhappy man. "I want to make up for what happened to you in Vietnam," Steven often said. Edward thought that this was "b.s." "You can't make up for it. No one can."
But Steven Carr had a way of not listening, of keeping the fantasy going no matter what. Cocaine was his drug of choice. He loved it and used it regularly from high school on. Early in 1984, a drug dealer he owed money to threatened his life, and Steven stole two rings from his mother and cashed $2,000 worth of forged checks on her account to pay the dealer. She turned him in to the police, and he served four months on a felony theft conviction before being paroled.
Carr's usable resume was about nil at this point, and when through a family connection he heard about a rancher in Costa Rica who was involved in hiring "trainers" for contra troops, he jumped at the possibility and even went down there to check it out. The rancher, Bruce Jones, told him to go home and learn Spanish. Carr didn't do this, but he did make more connections with the network of itchy Bay of Pigs veterans in Miami. Soon enough they would become active in the National Security Council's far-flung network of arms and men, and Steven Carr was in, traveling on March 6, 1985, with a former Dade County Prison guard and Brigade 2506 member named Jesus Garcia aboard a chartered DC-3 to Ilopango military airport in El Salvador. The arms they carried--including automatic rifles, mortars, a 14-foot cannon, a sniper rifle and thousands of rounds of ammunition--had been collected from garages around the Miami area in which they'd been stored. Now they, and Carr, would be shipped to a contra base in north-central Costa Rica. It was a hopeful time for Steven Carr.
"Steven became a mercenary like someone else might join a football team or a club," his former attorney, Gerry Berry, said later. "He thought he'd make friends and people would look up to him because he was in a macho role. He was a man with a good heart, someone you'd want to have on your side in combat."
THERE WERE FIVE LIKE-MINDED young men who went to Costa Rica to train a small band of contras. (The unit's mission would be to gather information and provoke trouble as a kind of "dirty tricks" squad, the Katzenjammer Kids meet the Sandinistas.) Two were bright, look-alike, young Englishmen--Peter Glibbery and John Davies, both 24. Another of the group was a big, angry, black-bearded Frenchman, an ex-paratrooper named Claude (Frenchy) Chauffard who hated communists and wore a "Kill 'Em All and Let God Sort It Out Later" T-shirt. Then there were the two Yanks--Robert Thompson, 52, an ex-Florida highway patrolman, and Steven Carr.
Pocosol Camp was out in the sparsely populated boonies near the central part of the Nicaraguan border, on property allegedly managed by the American farmer John Hull. It was a clearing in the tall grass and trees, with a few wooden pallets for tents and a large, thatched open-air meeting place. Mango and water-apple trees dotted the lazy little Rio Frio, which wound through nearby rice fields. Maybe if you squinted you could imagine you were in Vietnam. But Nicaragua was just across the river, and six or seven kilometers through the trees and grass was a Sandinista camp, La Esperanza.
At Pocosol, no one quite seemed to know what they were doing. Here, in the spring of 1985, had gathered some 40 men--Miskito Indians, Sandinista deserters, Cubans, Costa Ricans and the non-Spanish-speaking trainers. They had arms but too few and in poor condition--AK-47s, Russian RPGs, and American M-16 assault rifles. The honcho here was a 5-foot-1 veteran of the Bay of Pigs invasion. Rene Corbo had a narrow, weathered face and was given to fits of temper. Hating communists as he did, he would explain the unit's mission like this: "We are gonna go over there and do some bad stuff, man. We gonna throw some stuff at those \o7 cabrons\f7 ." Corbo did not like taking orders from gringos; he had his own agenda. Because of his size and temper the men called him "the poisoned dwarf."
One of the "dirty tricks" they planned was a hit-and-run attack on the Costa Rican border town of Los Chiles, after which they'd leave some Soviet mortars behind and some bodies (who the dead would be was not known) dressed in Sandinista uniforms (to suggest a Sandinista attack). Like much of what they discussed, it never happened. Their most notorious scheme, a plot to assassinate the U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica, Lewis A. Tambs, and blame the Sandinistas seems to have consisted mainly of loose talk. The plan became so well known that they had to abandon it, Carr told a reporter. "It was like the Keystone Kops."
There were at this time about 15,000 contras under arms, the bulk of them operating out of Honduras and down through northern Nicaraguan. The so-called southern front--the Costa Rican border area--was always sputtering with "incidents" without quite catching fire. Costa Rica, of course, was a neutral country, and the United States had pledged to respect its neutrality. At the same time, Ambassador Tambs had said, as reported in the Tower Commission Report, "I really have only one mission: to form Nicaraguan resistance on the southern front."
IT WAS A DIFFERENT SORT OF war, or pre-war, here on the sleepy southern front. A certain open-house quality prevailed. Late in 1984, Soldier of Fortune magazine had sponsored a group of "private sector military professionals" on a tour of the area and up into Nicaragua, offering training tips. Afterward, many contras wore Soldier of Fortune shoulder patches. (Publisher Bob Brown offered a $1-million prize to any defecting Sandinista pilot who got away with a Soviet-made Mi-24 helicopter). What was really being offered in Costa Rica was the chance to fulfill one's fantasy of war, outside of the usual military restrictions. Here one could "free-lance."
Carr wore the usual camouflage fatigues, the smoked sunglasses, the combat boots and web gear, and to that added his own highly theatrical touch: a live grenade on a string, dangling around his neck.
Eventually Carr and Glibbery would become good friends, but on first sighting Glibbery was not impressed. "Do you suppose there's any way we can get rid of this guy?" he asked John Davies.
The most disturbing thing about Carr, besides his wishful flamboyance (he had given himself the jaunty \o7 nom de guerre\f7 of Carlos Caballo--"Charlie Horse"), was his confessional compulsion. Within minutes of meeting Glibbery, the good Carr was relating bad Carr's transgressions--he had stolen from his mother, he had served time in prison, he was heavily into cocaine. "He seemed to think this was his last chance," Glibbery said.
Before going to Pocosol, Carr squeezed in an appearance at the San Jose offices of U.S. consul Kirk-Patrick Kotula. "He came in to report on some counterfeiters he had knowledge of," Kotula says. "Then he told me he was wanted by the police in the States and was on his way north to join some contras. (He) seemed very immature, and I said: 'Look, it's the real world up there. No big helicopter is going to land and take you to a nice hospital if you get hurt. If you get shot they'll leave you. You'll starve and die.' He answered with some macho b.s. He didn't hear me at all."
THERE WAS A MORALE and discipline problem at Pocosol. The Englishmen, Glibbery and Davies, had taken it upon themselves to shape things up a little, establishing morning "stand-tos" as they had in the British army. But there was much dissension in the ranks and there were too many aimless "patrols" that did nothing to satisfy the men's need for action. Once a small band led by a Cuban known only as Pedro (he was said to have fought with Che Guevara in Cuba and Colombia) came upon a Sandinista camp just inside Nicaragua. It was night. No guards were in evidence, and Pedro and his men were seriously considering throwing a little lead at the Sandinistas when their position was given away by a herd of cows that had seen them and started to moo. The cow-alerted Sandinistas launched some mortars in Pedro's direction, and he and his group had to split. It was embarrassing.
Some weeks later, with that experience still fresh, a patrol of 20 men, Steven Carr among them, came through a grove of trees six or so kilometers inside Nicaragua and saw, 50 yards away, the green-plastic tents and cookhouse shack of the Sandinista camp La Esperanza. It was toward dark on a pleasant evening and the men were inside eating. The peaceful clink of busy forks could be heard in the quiet.
Leading the patrol was Rene Corbo, the man who had for so long been threatening to "throw some stuff" at the Sandinistas but had not yet thrown any. The word, filtering down the complex chain of command, was still against direct action. But Corbo opened fire, and his men followed suit.
The racket they made, the smell of gunpowder. This was it for Steven Carr, who unloaded one clip of his AK-47, a round at a time, and then switched his weapon over to automatic fire and emptied a second and a third clip in sweeping, convulsive bursts, the gun barrel fighting to pull upward and Carr fighting to keep it down and the rounds somewhere on target. Down the line another man opened fire with a rocket launcher.
"We caught them in the chow hall and lobbed three rocket-propelled grenades right into their laps," Carr would tell a reporter later. "We used AK-47 assault rifles to finish off those in front of the place. I'm sure a few of them were smart enough to hit the ground, but we killed a bunch of them." Enemy dead were estimated at anywhere from 12 to 30.
It all lasted about five minutes--the one time in Carr's life when the dream and the reality would truly merge; he often said later it was the high point of his life. Now one of Corbo's own men, a hefty Costa Rican, began to scream. The Sandinistas had started returning fire, and he had been hit in the leg. Glancing around, Carr found that he was alone with a screaming man who could not walk.
It did not help that Carr spoke no Spanish and the Costa Rican no English. And with enemy soldiers due at their position any second, and Carr furious at being left behind in this situation, he could have just retreated. Yet he draped the much larger man across his shoulders and dragged him into the woods and then several hundred yards farther, to where the others were regrouping.
Cool to their welcome (after all, they had run off and left him), he set about improvising a dressing for the wounded man's leg. "Carlos Caballo" had raised his stock considerably.
When they got back to Pocosol--a day-and-a-half trek with the wounded man--Carr announced: "I'm not fighting with Corbo anymore." But it was over anyway. Higher-ups had judged the La Esperanza raid a disaster and had relieved Corbo of his modest command. Two weeks later, on April 24, a unit of the Costa Rican Rural Guard arrived and were greeted as friends. Many of the men had visited the camp before. Some of them had assisted the troops in canoes across the Rio Frio for the La Esperanza episode. But something had shifted within the highly factionalized Costa Rican government down in San Jose, and the guards now surrounded them and told them they were under arrest. (But the Costa Ricans, with their long history of neutrality, were by nature non-confrontational and uncomfortable with such brusque behavior, and soon after the arrest Carr and some others went with the arresting colonel into a nearby town for a beer.)
Charged with violating Costa Rican neutrality and possession of explosives, the five gringos were eventually transported to La Reforma Prison outside San Jose. Carr would be there 13 months.
LA REFORMA PRISON SITS IN THE middle of farmland and orchards 15 miles north of San Jose. For the first 10 weeks the five gringos shared a 12-by-20-foot cell with 10 other prisoners. Then Frenchy Chauffard got into a fight and was sent to solitary. Around the same time, John Davies and Robert Thompson got themselves moved to other cells.
They wanted to distance themselves from the publicity campaign that Carr and Glibbery had planned. They were all feeling hung out to dry by then. No one had come forward to help them, and Glibbery and Carr had decided to go on the offensive and tell their story to the world press. Their thinking was that if they told what they knew, the presiding powers would be embarrassed and they'd be let out.
But Glibbery and Carr didn't have a firm grip on who those powers were, or how they operated. They were Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in "Hamlet," minor characters in a complex drama they knew mostly at second hand. Once they made a pyramid chart of the names of all the 20 or so men they thought to have contributed to their predicament. At the top--hardly more than a rumor--was Lt. Col. Oliver North.
"It's surprising how transient loyalty is between employer and employee," Glibbery, the philosophical engineering school dropout, remarked.
"When it comes down to it, all you have to depend on is your friends," Carr said.
The FBI came to look into the matter and so did a representative of contra-aid opponent Sen. John Kerry. Still nothing happened.
"I'll tell you what is weird," Steven Carr said to Peter Glibbery. "For the first time in my life I'm telling the truth, and nobody believes me." More to the point, perhaps, was that 18 months before the Iran-contra scandal broke, and nearly two years before the Tower Commission Report, people simply didn't care very much.
THE GRAY-HAIRED MAN ON THE HORSE was being asked some questions by an American reporter. "I'm an Indiana farm boy," the man was saying. "Absolutely nothing else."
"Just an Indiana farm boy?"
The man on the horse was drinking a Coke and did not flinch when the interviewer suggested that maybe he was more than he said. That maybe he also did some work for the CIA in his part of Costa Rica. Hadn't he been helping the contras, staging raids into Nicaragua? "I only give humanitarian aid," John Hull said.
American television viewers saw John Hull last June on a segment of CBS' "West 57th Street." And he didn't look like a CIA man. Nothing slick or shifty about him at all. Short gray hair, generous schnoz, plain shirt. Farmer all the way.
Then, a young man appeared on the screen. He didn't look like who he was supposed to be either--an American who fought with the contras. Deadpan, round face that a mustache didn't do much for. He said John Hull gave him his orders, told him where to go.
When they went back to Hull and told him what the young man had said, Hull momentarily lost his easygoing manner: "Steven Carr is the dregs of humanity," he said. "He's been in trouble all his life. He's the kind of dregs the communists use to push their side."
Carr, in turn, did not appear even slightly perturbed by Hull's denial. "I wouldn't know anything about John Hull unless he told me," he said a little wearily. "Anyway, how many people could come up to you and admit, 'I'm the CIA guy in Costa Rica?' "
The interviewer, Jane Wallace, had no answer.
FOR STEVEN CARR, PRISON WAS A TIME for writing letters and giving interviews. He also read the Bible cover to cover twice. He told Glibbery his conclusion: "I think God has me in here to keep me out of trouble."
The months passed and still no sign of release, no trial date, nothing. Not that La Reforma was the worst prison in Central America--it might even have been the best. Money helped, and Carr's father, the IBM executive, sent him a hundred a month via the American consul. With it he could buy from the prison store such necessities as Coca-Cola and razor blades and, from other sources, marijuana. This was slightly ironic: There were men serving 10-year terms at La Reforma for growing outside what they could buy inside.
Carr's interview persona was consistently cool and blase, yet in reality he was moody and down a lot, unsure of himself. Sometimes he banged his head against the cell wall and yelled in frustration. Once he said to Glibbery: "You know this stuff just isn't worth it. When I get out I'm going to give up all this mercenary crap."
Then the two of them would find themselves drifting into more "merc" talk, fantasizing about international "hot spots" like Suriname and Angola and New Caledonia where a good mercenary could get work. Carr often talked about joining the Foreign Legion or of hiring out to the white farmers of South Africa to battle the "black insurgents." "Mercenary" was as close as he'd come to finding a profession. "I did that job in Nicaragua because you have to start somewhere," he told the Miami Herald. "When I go up to my next employer, I can say, 'Yeah, I was on that one.' That's when I can start demanding the bucks."
There was a small market at this time for men who would talk about their mercenary experiences. Sen. Kerry's office would, in fact, pay some of Carr's legal expenses. And his lawyer in Florida, Gerry Berry, later suggested to him that his story might make a book, if Carr would stop giving away the product with all his interviews. Carr refused. "He enjoyed the attention too much," Berry says.
CARR AND HIS COHORTS WERE FINALLY bailed out of La Reforma the same weekend--this was in May, 1986--that Sandinista-hero-turned-contra Eden (Commander Zero) Pastora turned in his men's arms at a ceremony on the Nicaraguan border. It was attended by a large gathering of the press. Pastora said from then on he would seek "political" solutions to the area's problems. Yet the arms he turned in--about 200 World War II German Mausers--did not really seem to be all the arms he had, as if maybe he'd buried the rest for future action or sold some. Who knew?
Nobody knew a lot in Costa Rica. They "suspected"; there were "rumors." Everything had begun to have a slightly fictional aura, like the "CIA-constructed secret airfield" rumored to exist in a remote north-central section of the country. Even after it was found and photographed--a wide, plowed gash in the bush--its existence was denied, yet it was ultimately confirmed in the Tower Commission Report. \o7 Infrastructure\f7 was a word used a lot, referring to the secret airfield, the new coast road and the prefabricated "Bailey bridges" the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was rumored to be quietly putting in place in case the Reagan Administration should want to move great numbers of men into combat against the Sandinistas. "The conflict is coming," U.S. and contra spokesmen told the New York Times the same month. "And it is going to be bloody."
Meanwhile, the five gringo "mercs" were allowed out on bail. Why? Nobody knew. Maybe it was the hunger strike that Chauffard had been on for the last month, or simply a matter of cleaning up old business on the part of Costa Rica's new president, Oscar Arias Sanchez, a man determined to be less dominated by U.S. wishes and eager to return his country to its former neutrality. (Though it was Arias who, a few months later, bowed to U.S. pressure and canceled a press conference he had called to denounce the secret airstrip. According to the Tower Commission Report, Ambassador Tambs had threatened Arias with the loss of $80 million in U.S. aid.) Also, there was a libel trial due to begin a few days after the five men were let out on bail. This was to try, in Costa Rican court, a complaint brought by John Hull against two American free-lance journalists--Tony Avirgan and his wife, Martha Honey--who had frequently described him in print as a CIA contact. Hull would lose the suit. Both Steven Carr and Peter Glibbery were to testify but, along with John Davies, Carr had jumped bail by then and escaped from Costa Rica.
Robert Thompson also subsequently jumped bail, and by October of 1986, only Peter Glibbery and Frenchy Chauffard were there to receive five-year sentences for violating Costa Rican neutrality. Chauffard, whose size, temper and unintelligibility had prompted local journalists to nickname him "The Monster Idiot," lunged at Glibbery when the sentence was read. "You communist pig!" he screamed, lifting a small Costa Rican to whom he was cuffed, swinging him like a puppy on a rope.
Carr's new freedom was short-lived, if it could be said to have existed at all. Just after getting out of prison, he met a young Costa Rican woman named Roxanna and spent three romantic days with her before sneaking out of Costa Rica, busing down to Panama and flying back to the States. Roxanna would complain that the weekend Carr left he had promised to take her to the beach.
Back in Naples, Fla., he had six months to do for breaking parole on his 1984 felony conviction. In many ways Carr was an ideal whistle-blower. A man society had firmly placed in the loser column was now holding forth in his Florida jail cell for a stream of eager journalists on U.S. policy in Central America: "The public is being lied to about what is going on down there," he told the Fort Myers News-Press with all the easy authority of a U.S. senator. "The money that is supposed to be going for the contras is actually going into the pockets of certain politicians. They are getting rich."
Something surely had cracked in his world, and so it was that on the morning of July 28, Carr, sitting in his Collier County Jail cell, would read that his brother, Edward Carr, 36, the Vietnam vet he had so idolized, had flipped out the day before. Edward, the newspapers reported, had emerged on the porch of his Naples home in full battle dress: helmet, a U.S. Army T-shirt, fatigues. Looking a bit like Frenchy Chauffard with his full black beard, the hefty Carr had taken potshots at a street light and at a police car, and while the local SWAT team deployed, Edward retired to his living room to watch a rerun of "MASH." Afterward, he told police that he was suffering "Vietnam flashback," and he was removed to the David Lawrence Mental Health Clinic for observation.
But Steven Carr had plenty of problems of his own to worry about. "I'm pretty sure they're going to dust me off when I get back to the States," he had said in a prison interview with the Tico Times, an English-language newspaper in San Jose. Prophesying his own death became a regular thing with him. "I'm not too popular with a lot of people because I tell the truth," he told a reporter. "I won't feel very safe walking down the street after this is over." To Frances Reynolds of the Fort Myers News-Press he said: "One of these days they're going to find my body. They'll probably call it a cocaine overdose."
Reynolds did not use that quote in the story she wrote, but it came back to her when she heard of Carr's death. "Well, Steven," she said to herself, "it happened just the way you said it would." The suspicion that he had been murdered was planted, to a considerable extent, by Carr himself.
A FEW WEEKS AFTER STEVEN CARR DIED, a story in the Nation reported that he had been found dead in a "Van Nuys parking lot" under "mysterious circumstances." This was written by Costa Rica-based journalists Tony Avirgan and Martha Honey. Asked what they based their description on, Avirgan said: "A lot of people didn't believe it was an accident." The difference between "Van Nuys parking lot" and the Panorama City driveway in which Carr actually died might seem slight, but it is indicative of the paranoia the Carr story inspired. A "parking lot" is a shade more ominous than a "driveway," more suggestive of foul play.
There was much to suggest that Carr had died exactly as the autopsy would state: of "acute cocaine intoxication." High levels of cocaine and its metabolite, benzoylecgonine, were found in his blood, bile and urine, the report said. But there remained unknowns and unknowables to be interpreted any way one wished.
Carr had come to Los Angeles directly after leaving prison in Florida. He had a sister in Reseda, and he had rented a room in an apartment belonging to a friend of hers. Why had he come here? He was afraid for his life, he told people. He imagined a "Cuban hit man" on his trail and is said to have slept with his lights on, his door locked.
Carr was scheduled to testify in two contra-related trials in Florida and, it was rumored, at some future congressional hearings. But how important a witness was he? At one point, when no one else was talking, he was very important; at the time of his death, increasingly less so. He was one of 28 witnesses scheduled to appear at a trial stemming from the 1984 bombing of an Eden Pastora press conference in La Penca, Nicaragua. Of his importance in the other case, involving alleged guns-for-drugs trading with the contras, Assistant U.S. Atty. Ana Barnett said: "We were not really relying on him as a prime witness."
He had a minimum-wage job lined up, but meanwhile he had gone in with a man he met upon his arrival in Los Angeles on $960 worth of cocaine. Ostensibly, this was for resale, but at the time of his death he had been on what witnesses said was a "56-hour cocaine streak."
The 22-year-old daughter of the woman in whose apartment he had his room was awakened by Carr at 3:25 in the morning. He was acting drunk, and she followed him outside. He said he had to get something from his car. Carr then collapsed in the driveway that ran between the apartment buildings. He went into convulsions, but before he died, the daughter heard Carr say, "I paranoided out. I ate the whole thing." It was a whispery voice, barely audible.
Some assumed he had literally eaten small bags of cocaine, but no such bags were found in his stomach. Was it a way of saying that he had simply used up all the drug? Did "thing" refer to cocaine at all? No one knew, but the phrase, "I paranoided out" seemed more straightforward. Carr had drifted to the center of where powerful and shadowy forces met and warred, and he had been marked by that battle. As for his actual death, it seemed a matter of interpretation. What was it finally that he was trying to confess? Steven Carr was the only one who knew. But it was typical of his compulsive honesty to try to tell us something. As Mel Arnold succinctly put it: "He was the best witness to his own foul play."
Meanwhile, Peter Glibbery was heading into what he hoped was his last year in La Reforma. He had liked Steven Carr in the end. "He tried to be a redneck but he was really a good guy," Glibbery recently said of Carr to a friend. "Very responsible, very irresponsible. Not too good, not too bad. I cried when I heard he died."
For more than a year the CIA has been trafficking 300 kilos of cocaine a month from Ecuador to Chile for export on to Europe, according to recent credible media reports from Santiago, the Chilean capital.
Proceeds from the 300 kilo-a-month business have been used to create a war-chest to finance a Cocaine Coup in Ecuador that was scheduled to be “green-lighted” after the expected win in the just-concluded U.S. Presidential election—expected, at least, by some Agency officials—of Mitt Romney.
It's a CIA “Ay, there’s the rub” moment.
The machinations were part of a plan to topple current Ecuador President Rafael Correa, who is unpopular in Washington.
An unexpected side effect of the revelation of the plan, which has received little publicity, has been to focus an observer's attention on what's going on in the drug trade in Ecuador lately. The country's history in the drug business, almost as rich as Switzerland's with banks, goes back a long way.
When it comes to efficiently moving drugs, this is far from Ecuador's first rodeo, and the drug network there is one of long-standing, (Wikileaks PDF).
So too is its relationship with both the the CIA and DEA.
For example, when famous CIA drug pilot Barry Seal was first caught smuggling cocaine way back in 1979, he picked up his huge load of cocaine—it was 45 kilos; those were more innocent times—in Guayaquil, one of Ecuador’s three major seaports.
The Americans recently convicted of laundering money for the Ecuador-based network are no parvenus, either. One is a prominent Louisiana attorney; the other an aviation broker in Oklahoma. And both took direction from a drug pilot with his own long pedigree in the drug trade.
Jorge Arévalo Kessler has been flying drugs out of Ecuador since 1989, he states in an affadavit at his trial. He is the nephew of a long-time Mexican Secretary of Defense, and was the personal pilot of disgraced former Mexican President Carlos Salinas.
His American connections are visible too. When finally arrested, Arévalo Kessler was flying a former U.S. military plane that was part of the 1990’s Forest Service scandal, involving planes intended for firefighting diverted into CIA covert drug running operations, the most spectacular result being the C-130 busted on a runway at Mexico City’s Intl Airport carrying cocaine worth $1 billion.
Or maybe the most spectacular result was this: 14 firefighters burned to death in an out-of-control forest fire in Colorado in August of 1994. No planes were available to help. They'd all been leased out on more lucrative assignments.
News in the drug trade is almost always surprising, and there's a good reason why: Imagine the world’s huge automobile industry without “Auto Week.”
Or the even more massive weapons business—the death trade—without “Jane’s Defense Weekly.”
Why drug traffickers don’t have a slick weekly magazine reporting on current events—whose head is still screwed on straight, whose not so much anymore—is a question better left unasked by those with no relish for being tagged “conspiracy theorists.”
Because there is no trade publication chronicling the drug business—by any measure one of the world's largest industry—current events come as a surprise.
Example: the current kerfuffle concerning Ecuador led to a belated discovery:
The same drug trafficking network active in Ecuador was also behind the doomed flights of two American planes from St. Petersburg Fl. seized in Mexico carrying almost 10 tons of cocaine. Evidence can be seen in Kessler's indictment, whose 'headliner' is Alejandro Flores-Cacho. Both men worked for Colombian Pedro Antonio Bermudez Suaza, "The Architect, now called the mastermind behind the St Petersburg flights by no less an authority than the DEA.
Bermudez Suaza is one of the world's richest and most sophisticated drug lords, worth perhaps a half-billion dollars. In law enforcement recordings he can be heard talking with the frantic pilot in the cockpit of the second of the two American planes busted in the Yucatan, a Gulfstream II (N987SA) which went down in the jungles of the Yucatan.
Tracing the provenance of the two planes led the Mexican Atty. General's office to where the money was being laundered; the startling discovery that $378 billion in drug money had been laundered through Wachovia Bank in Charlotte, NC…in just six years.
It was a “faux pas” from which Wachovia never recovered, and the cause of the bank’s demise in a forced sale to Wells Fargo.
One of the Americans convicted of laundering money and buying planes for the Ecuadorian drug network is prominent Louisiana attorney Hugh Sibley. A glance through his court case shows his trial producedmore uestions than answers, and enough sealed documents to raise questions about the privatization of justice.
Apparently, rank has its privileges.
The other convicted American owned an aviation brokerage in Broken Arrow. Lee R Snider, (PDF) the son of a respected local football coach, admitted to laundering drug money and arranging the purchase of eight planes, including a 727, in court documents.
Both Sibley and Snider worked under the direction of a 43-year-old drug pilot, Gustavo Jorge Arévalo Kessler(PDF), who testified he had been smuggling drugs through Ecuador since 1979.
As already reported, Kessler is the nephew of a long-time Mexican Secretary of Defense, who served under Miguel de Madrid, President of Mexico between 1982 and 1988.
After that he became the personal pilot of disgraced former Mexican President Carlos Salinas, now living in exile in Ireland.
Kessler, busted in Mexico several years ago, was flying a Gulfstream II (former registration N914MH) that was one of the "mis-placed" airplanes in the US Forest Service scandal during the 1990′s. Briefly, that scandal involved U.S. government airplanes intended for firefighting that were diverted into CIA covert drug running operations; the most spectacular of which was, as stated, the C-130 busted on a runway at Mexico City’s Intl Airport carrying $1 billion dollars worth of cocaine.
Kessler's "ride" had been "exported" to become a drug plane by an Arizona company called INTERNATIONAL AIR RESPONSE INC said to be deeply–deeply!–involved in the CIA operation.
The jig was finally up after 14 firefighters burned to death in an out of control forest fire in Colorado in August 1994. The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration subsequently cited the Forest Service for "inadequate use of aviation resources." Where were all the planes?
Out of the country, many of them, doing anything but fighting fires.
A personal note: I knew the courageous man who broke that scandal. Gary Eitel was a former military pilot in Vietnam, who went on the become a CIA pilot and then later a lawyer for the Agency. Now deceased, Eitel was fearless in pursuit of the truth.
The story of the CIA-DEA's earmarked 300 kilos a month in support of an alleged CIA cocaine coup begins with Fernando Ulloa. Ulloa was an Inspector in the Chilean Federal Police (Policia de Investigaciones, or PDI). Over a year ago, he uncovered a drug ring operating out of the local CIA and DEA stations; with assistance and support from Chilean political authorities and the Chilean Army, the ring trafficks 300 kilos of cocaine a month.
Most cops see the world in black and white. So Ulloa immediately took his evidence to the Chilean Minister of the Interior in Santiago’s La Moneda Palace, mostly remembered for having been destroyed by the Chilean Air Force in the coup which took Socialist President Salvador Allende’s life in 1973.
No investigation was launched, however, and no action was taken.
When 10 Chilean police officials were recently charged with assisting a much smaller drug smuggling ring, the resulting public scandal gave Ulloa the opening (and the media coverage) to publicly accuse the Interior Minister, Rodrigo Hinzpeter, of covering up the much larger—and still active—CIA cocaine trafficking.
Chilean intelligence sources confirmed Ulloa’s allegation to Chilean reporter Patricio Mery Bell of Panorama News in Santiago: the CIA is using proceeds from the monthly sale of 300 kilos of cocaine to fund opposition to Rafael Correa in next year’s Ecuadorian election.
“An anonymous source from the Agencia Nacional de Inteligencia (ANI) told Panoramas News that the smuggling of 300 kilos of cocaine was in fact a highly sensitive CIA/DEA operation to raise money to topple the government of Ecuador,” reported Mery.
“The operation is similar to the one carried out by the Agency in Central America during the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980’s, the source said.”
Also offering corroboration for the charge (but not proof) was the controversial former British diplomat Craig Murray, who alleged the CIA has invested $87 million for a campaign to bribe and blackmail media and government officials to prevent Correa’s reelection.
The answer to what makes Ecuador important enough to merit its own CIA cocaine coup emphasizes the point made by UPS commercials: Logistics.
Ecuador, strategically situated between the two major drug producing nations of Colombia and Peru, has long been an important transshipment point for cocaine, a fact not lost on previous generations of drug traffickers.
States a U.S. Congressional Research Service report, “The country’s lengthy maritime and land borders have long provided an attractive and relatively unregulated environment for drug trafficking.”
That means—translating the reports Congressional-ese—fewer people to pay off.
According to numerous reports Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s President, stirred the ire of the U.S. when he ordered the eviction of the U.S. military and CIA-DEA presence at a large military base in Manta, one of Ecuador’s three main ports.
So what was at Manta that made it so valuable? On Wednesday, we'll tell you.
CIA Operative Claims Corrupt Colombian Law Enforcer Now Advising Peña Nieto Is Sign Of That Danger Ahead
CIA Inspector General Frederick P. Hitz conducted an investigation and released the following information after a huge controversy erupted over Gary Webb’s 1996 “Dark Alliance” series:
· On January 29, 1998, Hitz published Volume One of his internal investigation. This was the first of two CIA reports that eventually substantiated many of Webb's claims about cocaine smugglers, the Nicaraguan contra movement, and their ability to freely operate without the threat of law enforcement.
· On March 16, 1998, Hitz admitted that the CIA had maintained relationships with companies and individuals the CIA knew were involved in the drug business. Hitz told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that "there are instances where CIA did not, in an expeditious or consistent fashion, cut off relationships with individuals supporting the Contra program who were alleged to have engaged in drug-trafficking activity or take action to resolve the allegations." Senator John Kerry reached similar conclusions a decade earlier in 1987. (See:)
· On May 7, 1998, Rep. Maxine Waters, revealed a memorandum of understanding between the CIA and the Justice Department from 1982, which was entered into the Congressional Record. This letter had freed the CIA from legally reporting drug smuggling by CIA assets, a provision that covered the Nicaraguan Contras and the Afghan rebels.
· On July 23, 1998, the Justice Department released a report by its Inspector General, Michael R. Bromwich. The Bromwich report claimed that the Reagan-Bush administration was aware of cocaine traffickers in the Contra movement and did nothing to stop the criminal activity. The report also alleged a pattern of discarded leads and witnesses, sabotaged investigations, instances of the CIA working with drug traffickers, and the discouragement of DEA investigations into Contra-cocaine shipments. The CIA's refusal to share information about Contra drug trafficking with law-enforcement agencies was also documented. The Bromwich report corroborated Webb's investigation into Norwin Meneses, a Nicaraguan drug smuggler.
· On October 8, 1998, CIA I.G. Hitz published Volume Two of his internal investigation. The report described how the Reagan-Bush administration had protected more than 50 Contras and other drug traffickers, and by so doing thwarted federal investigations into drug crimes. Hitz published evidence that drug trafficking and money laundering had made its way into Reagan's National Security Council where Oliver North oversaw the operations of the Contras. According to the report, the Contra war took precedence over law enforcement. To that end, the internal investigation revealed that the CIA routinely withheld evidence of Contra crimes from the Justice Department, Congress and even the analytical division of the CIA itself. Further, the report confirmed Webb's claims regarding the origins and the relationship of Contra fundraising and drug trafficking. The report also included information about CIA ties to other drug traffickers not discussed in the Webb series, including Moises Nunez and Ivan Gomez. More importantly, the internal CIA report documented a cover-up of evidence which had led to false intelligence assessments.
See Hitz’s interview: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/drugs/special/hitz.html
Where to get more information
http://www.powderburns.org - The website of the author. Contact Cele at email@example.com or 956-345-5770
The author is available for lectures, to answer questions and as an expert court witness. Celerino Castillo III lectures regularly on topics such as U.S. Foreign Policy, law enforcement, military, and intelligence matters. http://www.freecelecastillo.com/free-archives.html - Contra-Drug War Videos are located here.
http://mediafilter.org/MFF/DEA.35.html -Photographs and additional notes from Castillo’s career.
http://narconews.com/darkalliance/ - Gary Webb’s original Dark Alliance series. Hosted by Bill Conroy’s Narco News site. Bill has continued on with much of Gary Webb’s research located here: http://www.narconews.com
Webb, Gary (1998). Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the crack cocaine explosion. Seven Stories Press. ISBN 1-888363-68-1. (Forward written by Congresswoman Maxine Waters D-CA) Free online copy:
US Congresswoman Maxine Waters reviews the LASD, CIA, DOJ reports clearing themselves and finds that the summary of the misleading reports contradict the content in the body of the report. Congresswoman Waters was also notified by a source on the HPSCI that a CIA Officer was found to be directly involved in drug trafficking, but that portion of the classified report was removed before release.
The Oliver North File: His Diaries, E-Mail, and Memos on the Kerry Report, Contras and Drugs National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 113 February 26, 2004 For further information Contact Peter Kornbluh: 202-994-7116. From United States v. Oliver L. North, Office of the Independent Counsel (OIC) Papers, National Archives & Records Administration, College Park, Maryland. http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB113/index.htm
The Expert Witness Radio Showhttp://www.expertwitnessradio.org – Website of Retired DEA agent Mike Levine. Levine also had similar experiences when he found that in all of his major cases, the targets of his investigations worked for the CIA. He has posted radio shows and essays here documenting what happened when he went after the CIA assets during drug investigations.
http://www.youtube.com/user/michaellevine53/videos Mike Levine’s youtube channel.
Mainstream Media: The Drug War Shills by Michael Levine -- October 28, 2009
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/drugs/archive/gunsdrugscia.html - PBS Frontline Special on Drugs. #613 Original Air Date: May 17, 1988 Produced and Written by Andrew and Leslie Cockburn. Includes an interview with legendary Intelligence officer Tony (“Tony Poe&rdquo Poshepny. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Poshepny
Poe admits that he was the handler for the Opium Warlord Vang Pao who made millions from the opium trade through the airline Air America. Pao was later allowed to immigrate to the United States, and upon his death, it was suggested that he be allowed burial in Arlington National Cemetery!
“Freeway” Ricky Ross’ legal case sparked the “Dark Alliance” series. Ross was released from prison on September 29, 2009. http://www.freewayrick.com/
"CIA are drug smugglers" Robert Bonner, DEA Administrator, - Federal Judge Bonner, head of DEA on 60 Minutes video-You don't get better proof than this (Posted by Mike Levine ) http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/03/prweb5135164.htm
http://www.thememoryhole.org/kerry/index.htm - Senate Subcommittee Report on Drugs, Law Enforcement and Foreign Policy (Kerry Committee Report) - a/k/a the Kerry Report Transcripts- hearings chaired by Senator John Kerry which found the United States Department of State had paid drug traffickers. Some of these payments were after the traffickers had been indicted by federal law enforcement agencies on drug charges or while traffickers were under active investigation by these same agencies. The Kerry investigation lasted two and a half years and heard scores of witnesses; its report was released on April 13, 1989. The final report was 400 pages, with an additional 600 page appendix. The committee stated "It is clear that individuals who provided support for the Contras were involved in drug trafficking...and elements of the Contras themselves knowingly received financial and material assistance from drug traffickers."A Summary is located at National Security Archives: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB113/north06.pdf
The BCCI Affair -- A Report to the Committee on Foreign Relations United States Senate by Senator John Kerry and Senator Hank Brown, December 1992 102d Congress 2d Session Senate Print 102-140
http://www.consortiumnews.com/archive/crack.html - Contra Crack Series- Complete coverage by Former Associated Press & Newsweek writer Robert Parry who originally broke the Contra Drug story a decade before Gary Webb. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Parry
http://consortiumnews.com/2011/12/09/the-warning-in-gary-webbs-death/ December 11, 2011
http://baltimorechronicle.com/2010/121710Parry.shtml Hitler's Shadow Reaches toward Today
describes Bolivia’s cocaine coup and state sponsored drug dealing in Latin America. 17 December 2010.
Gary Webb's Enduring Legacy by Robert Parry http://www.consortiumnews.com/2007/121007.html
How John Kerry exposed the Contra-cocaine scandal By Robert Parry Monday, Oct 25, 2004
http://www.counterpunch.org/ - Website of the late Alexander Cockburn and Bill St. Clair, authors of “Whiteout” Which examined links between the Central Intelligence Agency, the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Los Angeles crack trade. This book covers all original material unrelated to the Gary Webb story.
http://ciadrugs.homestead.com/files/ Narco Colonialism in the Twentieth Century
In 1986, Lieutenant Colonel James "Bo" Gritz (U.S. Army-Retired) travelled to South East Asia seeking to rescue prisoners of war held since the Vietnam War. During his search, he met with infamous drug lord Khun Sa and filmed 40 hours of video of the drug lord explaining who his customers were. An extensive campaign to discredit Gritz ensued and former members of his team were arrested on fabricated charges.
http://www.supremelaw.org/authors/gritz/index.htm Transcript of Gritz’ Video “A Nation Betrayed” and a June, 1990 speech by Gritz in San Francisco.
http://www.ncoic.com/heroin-4.htm Copy of Gritz Congressional Testimony dated 30 June 1987
http://www.apfn.net/dcia/trimmer.html Letter sent by Lance Trimmer as part of a “Citizen Complaint of Wrongdoing by Federal Officers” dated September 17, 1987. The letter mentions Scott Weekly as a member of his team. Weekly would later turn up in Gary Webb’s Dark Alliance series.
http://www.serendipity.li/cia/gritz1.htm Letter sent by Gritz to the President, dated 1 February 1988.
http://www.apfn.net/dcia/khun-sa.html June 27, 1987 Letter sent by Khun Sa to DOJ offering to help end drug trafficking. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khun_Sa
http://www.apfn.net/dcia/smith.html June 15, 1987 letter by Major (Ret) Mark A.Smith to Congressman Brian Bilbray stating that Gritz was on a government sanctioned mission. Smith states that he reported in to HQ DIA during the three year period on Gritz’ mission and activities.
Costa Rican Legislative Assembly Special Commission July10,1989 http://www.apfn.net/dcia/lapenca.html
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0202/S00069.htm 18 February 2002, “The Ultimate New Business Cold Call” –On June 27, 1999, the AP reported that NYSE Chairman Richard Grasso visited Colombia to meet with the FARC guerillas. Grasso tells the Associated Press he is making “cold calls” "to bring a message of cooperation from U.S. financial services" and to discuss foreign investment and the future role of U.S. businesses in Colombia. “I invite members of the FARC to visit the New York Stock Exchange so that they can get to know the market personally.” (Photo: NYSE Chairman Richard Grasso Embracing FARC Commander Raul Reyes) FARC is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. http://articles.latimes.com/1999/jun/27/news/mn-50699
Drug money saved banks in global crisis, claims UN advisor— Sunday 13 December 2009
Drugs and crime chief says $352bn in criminal proceeds was effectively laundered by financial institutions
Drugs money worth billions of dollars kept the financial system afloat at the height of the global crisis, the United Nations' drugs and crime tsar has told the Observer. Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said he has seen evidence that the proceeds of organised crime were "the only liquid investment capital" available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year.
Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America, Updated Edition Peter Dale Scott (Author), Jonathan Marshall (Author) 279 pages Publisher: University of California Press (April 10, 1998)
This important, explosive report forcefully argues that the "war on drugs" is largely a sham, as the U.S. government is one of the world's largest drug traffickers. The authors unearth close links between the CIA and Latin American drug networks which provide U.S. covert operations with financing, political leverage and intelligence. CIA-protected Panamanian ruler Manuel Noriega supplied drugs, pilots and banking services to Honduran and Costa Rican cocaine smugglers who were partners in Reagan's support program for Nicaragua's Contras. Together, Honduran and Costa Rican traffickers supplied one-third of the cocaine smuggled into the U.S. in the 1980s. The Bush administration showers hundreds of millions of dollars on Latin American military elites in Guatemala, Colombia, etc. to enlist them in the "war on drugs, empowering the very forces that protect drugtraffickers. The U.S. also gave covert aid to Afghan guerrillas who smuggled drugs in concert with Pakistan's military--an operation that produced half of the heroin consumed in the U.S. during the 1980s. Scott, a professor at UC-Berkeley, and San Francisco Chronicle economics editor Marshall carefully document Washington's complicity.
Down by the River : Drugs, Money, Murder, and Family by Charles Bowden, Simon & Schuster, October 29, 2002.
Lionel Bruno Jordan was murdered on January 20, 1995, in an El Paso parking lot. His brother Phil Jordan, was head of DEA’s El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC). The book documents the Jordan family’s attempts to solve the murder case and get justice for their son. Bowden interviews several Mexican oficials who have fled the country for their lives. The Mexican government was implicated in the drug trade all the way up to the office of then-president Carlos Salinas. Interestingly, Phil Jordan mentions a case where he intercepted a money courier working for the BCCI bank with $18.8 million dollars in cash. Jordan states that he “received a call from a high level DOJ official” who ordered him to release the man and return his money.
National Security Archives:
The Contras, Cocaine, and Covert Operations -- Documentation of Official U.S. Knowledge of Drug Trafficking and the Contras
This electronic briefing book is compiled from declassified documents obtained by the National Security Archive, including the notebooks kept by NSC aide and Iran-contra figure Oliver North, electronic mail messages written by high-ranking Reagan administration officials, memos detailing the contra war effort, and FBI and DEA reports. The documents demonstrate official knowledge of drug operations, and collaboration with and protection of known drug traffickers. Court and hearing transcripts are also included. http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB2/nsaebb2.htm
The Iran Contra Affair 20 Years On. Convicted (and pardoned) Iran Contra veterans return to power under George W. Bush.
Iran Contra 25 years on- "Memoranda on Criminal Liability of Former President Reagan and of President Bush" Show Reagan briefed before each missile shipment to Iran, Bush chaired meetings authorizing the mining of Nicaraguan harbors.
Testimony of Peter Kornbluh, Senior Analyst, National Security Archive October 19, 1996 (Includes declassified documents)
“..I can and will address the central premise of the story: that the U.S. government tolerated the trafficking of narcotics into this country by individuals involved in the contra war. To summarize: there is concrete evidence that U.S. officials-- White House, NSC and CIA--not only knew about and condoned drug smuggling in and around the contra war, but in some cases collaborated with, protected, and even paid known drug smugglers”
“..Mr. North called a press conference where he was joined by Duane Clarridge, the CIA official who ran the contra operations from 1981 through mid 1984, and the former attorney general of the United States, Edwin Meese III. Mr. North called it a "cheap political trick...to even suggest that I or anyone in the Reagan administration, in any way, shape or form, ever tolerated the trafficking of illegal substances." Mr. Clarridge claimed that it was a "moral outrage" to suggest that a Reagan Administration official "would have countenanced" drug trafficking. And Mr. Meese stated that no "Reagan administration official would have ever looked the other way at such activity."
The documentation, in which Mr. North, Mr. Clarridge and Mr. Meese all appear, suggests the opposite. Let me review it here briefly:
The Storm over “Dark Alliance” by Peter Kornbluh, From Columbia Journalism Review (January/February 1997)
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB131/ The President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe was considered “One of the most important drug traffickers in the country” in 1991 Intelligence reports. Then-Senator Uribe was “Dedicated to collaboration with the Medellin cartel at high government levels.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%81lvaro_Uribe
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB37/index.html -- Vladimiro Ilyich Montesinos Torres (born May 20, 1945) was the long-standing head of Peru's intelligence service. He amassed a huge fortune through graft and drug and gun running in South America while on the payroll of the U.S. Government. http://ciadrugs.homestead.com/files/peru01.html
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB334/ Luis Posada Carrileshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luis_Posada_Carriles
and Orlando Bosch https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orlando_Bosch resided openly in the United States despite committing multiple terrorist acts and are protected by the US government. Posada is an assassin and drug trafficker observed by Castillo at Ilopango running the Contra operations. In 1976, 73 civillians wre blown up by the men in the only mid air bombing attack in history in the western hemisphere. Posada boasted in interviews that he masterminded a series of bombings in Havana nightclubs designed to scare tourists from Cuba’s tourism industry. One Italian tourist was killed and 11 wounded in the 1997 bombings. Posada was arrested and later pardoned for the 2000 assassination attempt of Fidel Castro at a university in Panama City using 33 pounds of c-4 explosives. He has never faced charges for terrorism in the US.
Former CIA Asset Luis Posada Goes to Trial Peter Kornbluh January 5, 2011
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB157/index.htm The Posada File Part II
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB153/index.htm The Posada File I
Atlantic Monthly story by Ann Lousie Bardach on Posada and Bosch
A Startling Tale of U.S. Complicity July 14, 1998 by ROBERT SCHEER http://articles.latimes.com/1998/jul/14/local/me-3470
Our Man's in Miami. Patriot or Terrorist? April 2005 - Summary of Posada’s Career by Ann Louise Bardach
Amid Cheers, Terrorists Have Landed in the U.S. -- To curry favor with Cuban Americans, Bush turns a blind eye. September 12, 2004 -- Julia E. Sweig and Peter Kornbluh | Julia E. Sweig is senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of "Inside the Cuban Revolution." Peter Kornbluh is the author of "Bay of Pigs Declassified."
http://ciadrugs.homestead.com/files/alfredmccoy.html - Interview with Professor Alfred McCoy, author of The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia. CIA complicity in the global drug trade McCoy has since stated that this pattern of smuggling in SE Asia continued in Latin America and Afghanistan wars.
The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade – This is an update to the original classic. Revised in 2003.
Alfred W. McCoy, http://www.amazon.com/dp/1556524838/?tag=theasipacjo0b-20
"Can Anyone Pacify the World's Number One Narco-State? The Opium Wars in Afghanistan," The Asia-Pacific Journal, 14-4-10, April 5, 2010 http://japanfocus.org/-Alfred_W_-McCoy/3339
Professor McCoy’s home page. http://history.wisc.edu/people/faculty/mccoy.htm
Testimony of IRS investigator William C. Duncan June 21, 1991 before the committee chaired by Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.) Duncan describes how the Justice Department asked him to perjure himself before a grand jury. http://www.idfiles.com/duncan.htm
Arkansas State Police officer Russell Welch testimony before the Alexander Committee. http://www.idfiles.com/rwdepo1.htm
Kerry: CIA Lied About Contra-Cocaine Connections Posted: 06/21/09 Updated: 05/25/11
The Senator Who Exposed The Criminal Bankers http://www.albionmonitor.com/0411a/kerrybcci.html 1992 Congressional Report on BCCI https://www.fas.org/irp/congress/1992_rpt/bcci/13clifford.htm
Kerry's Contra Cocaine Investigation http://www.albionmonitor.com/0411a/kerrycontracocaine.html
Interview with Jonathan Winer-- A lawyer and former State Department official, Jonathan Winer was a counselor to Kerry from 1983 to 1997. He served as U.S. Deputy Ass't Secretary of State for International Narcotics Matters 1994-1999 under the Clinton Administration. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/choice2004/interviews/winer.html
Drug War interview of Jonathan Winer on PBS Frontline http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/drugs/special/winer.html
The Iran Contra Affair:
Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Contra Matters (Walsh Report)https://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/walsh/
Walsh Investigation Outline at U.S. Archives http://www.archives.gov/research/investigations/walsh.html
Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran-Contra Affair (S. Rep. No. 216, H.R. Rep. No. 433, 100th Cong., 1st Sess.). United States Government Printing Office, via Google Books. November 11, 1987.
Summary of the Walsh Report https://www.nytimes.com/books/97/06/29/reviews/iran-transcript.html
News Media Cover-up
FAIR covers the media cover-up of the Contra-Crack Controversy http://www.fair.org/issues-news/contra-crack.html
Professor Peter Dale Scott addresses the Media cover-up http://www.copi.com/articles/darker.html
American Drug War: The Last White Hope is a 2007 documentary by writer/ director Kevin Booth about the War on Drugs in the United States. Includes interviews with former law enforcement officials. The full two hour film is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CyuBuT_7I4
Read the wiki here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Drug_War:_The_Last_White_Hope
Freeway Ricky Ross - complete episode on BET Channel’s “American Gangster “ series: (6/6/2009)
Robert Knight and Dennis Bernstein articles on drugs and the Iran-Contra affair.
In June 6, 2007 email, titled "RE: Humint - Afghanistan - Karzai (Strictly Protect - Confidential," Stratfor vice president of intelligence Fred Burton wrote: The brother of President Karzai of Afghanistan is under investigation by DEA as a major narcotics trafficker. For political reasons, DEA has been told to backoff [sic] by the White House and CIA. DEA is seeing a direct nexus between terrorism and narcotics in Afghanistan with narcotics sales being used to fund jihadist operations
2011 hack of 2007 Stratfor email: “CIA and White House told DEA to back off investigation” of Ahmed Wali Karzai, brother of the President, Hamid Karzai. AWK was named as a major trafficker and on US payroll since 2001.
Brother of Afghan Leader Said to Be Paid by C.I.A.
19 October 2009 Classified Embassy Cable: Afghan Vice-President Ahmad Zia Masood was stopped by DEA with $52 million he was ultimately allowed to keep without revealing the money's origin or destination
Photos of U.S. and Afghan Troops Patrolling Poppy Fields June 2012
Afghan opium production 'rises by 61%' compared with 2010
2012 Afghanistan’s Opium Production on the Rise
“We are back in the situation we had in 2007-08,” UNODC country representative Jean-Luc Lemahieu told the paper. “The Taliban definitely get income from opium cultivation … but the lion’s share of the income still disappears here, into the hands of the big patrons of this country.”
Opium farming in Afghanistan rising again, bleak UN report admits
Emma Graham-Harrison in Kabul The Guardian, Tuesday 17 April 2012
In 2011, the farm-gate value of opium production more than doubled from the previous year to $1.4bn (£880m) and now accounts for 15% of the economy, Reuters news agency reported.
2012 United Nations Opium Report
“…the government lacks the political will to clamp down on a crop worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year”, the United Nations' leading drug control official in Afghanistan said. The bleak figures were laid out in an annual risk assessment PDF, which has previously been announced with a press release but this year was uploaded to a UN website with no publicity. http://www.unodc.org/documents/crop-monitoring/Afghanistan/ORAS_report_2012.pdf
Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan (August 2002 to October 2004) Craig Murray says UK and USA sent prisoners to Uzbekistan to be tortured. Murray says that the Taliban sympathizers only account for 10% of drug exports from Afghanistan, whereas Karzai’s people account for well over 50%. See this recent speech by Murray at the 7:20 mark:
Britain is protecting the biggest heroin crop of all time By Craig Murray on August 27, 2007
My knowledge of all this comes from my time as British Ambassador in Uzbekistan. I ... watched the Jeeps ... bringing the heroin through from Afghanistan, en route to Europe. I watched the tankers of chemicals roaring into Afghanistan.
The four largest players in the heroin business are all senior members of the Afghan government – the government that our soldiers are fighting and dying to protect.
Craig Murray article archive
CIA pays many in Karzai administration: report
Anti-Drug Unit of C.I.A. Sent Ton of Cocaine to U.S. in 1990 By TIM WEINER
Published: November 20, 1993
A Central Intelligence Agency anti-drug program in Venezuela shipped a ton of nearly pure cocaine to the United States in 1990, Government officials said today.
Retired DEA agent Mike Levine spoke with former colleagues and found that the amount was “27 tons minimum”
Mexican Diplomat Says America Pretty Much Invited The Sinaloa Drug Cartel Across The Border
Michael Kelley | Oct. 1, 2012, 4:31 PM
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Investigation into Contra involvement in drug trafficking.
December, 1996 LASD summary of the 3,600-page report http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cia-drugs/files/
Where the Mob Keeps Its Money By ROBERTO SAVIANO Published: August 25, 2012
THE global financial crisis has been a blessing for organized crime. A series of recent scandals have exposed the connection between some of the biggest global banks and the seamy underworld of mobsters, smugglers, drug traffickers and arms dealers. American banks have profited from money laundering by Latin American drug cartels….Many of the illicit transactions preceded the 2008 crisis, but continuing turmoil in the banking industry created an opening for organized crime groups, enabling them to enrich themselves and grow in strength. In 2009, Antonio Maria Costa, an Italian economist who then led the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, told the British newspaper The Observer that “in many instances, the money from drugs was the only liquid investment capital” available to some banks at the height of the crisis. “Interbank loans were funded by money that originated from the drugs trade and other illegal activities,” he said. “There were signs that some banks were rescued that way.” The United Nations estimated that $1.6 trillion was laundered globally in 2009, of which about $580 billion was related to drug trafficking and other forms of organized crime.
The U.S. War for Drugs and of Terror in Colombia by Dan Kovalik
The book quotes the United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP) which concludes that, today, "the biggest heroin and cocaine trading institutions in the world are the militaries of Burma, Pakistan, Mexico, Peru and Colombia - 'all armed and trained by U.S. military intelligence in the name of anti-drug efforts.'" In the case of Colombia, while the U.S., to justify its massive counterinsurgency program, vilifies the FARC guerillas as "narco-terrorists," this title is more befitting of the Colombian state and its paramilitary allies.
Indeed, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who had been both the darling of the Bush and Obama Administrations, had himself been ranked by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency as number "82 on a list of 104 'more important narco-traffickers contracted by the Colombian narcotics cartels . . . ."
As the book explains, the U.S.'s own Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has concluded that the "FARC involvement in the drug trade mainly involves the taxation of coca, which does not involve cocaine manufacturing, trafficking, and transshipment." As the UNDCP explains, some FARC fronts are not involved in even the taxation of coca, and still others "'actually tell the farmers not to grow coca.'" In terms of the actual trafficking in drugs, it is the friends of the U.S. who are largely responsible for this. Thus, as the book notes, quoting the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, while there is "no evidence of FARC involvement in drug trafficking," there is indeed "extensive drug smuggling to the United States by 'right-wing paramilitary groups in collaboration with wealthy drug barons, the [U.S.-funded] armed forces, key financial figures and senior bureaucrats." And yet, the U.S. war in Colombia is focused upon destroying the FARC, and, to the extent it is aimed at the manual eradication of coca crops, this eradication takes place almost solely in areas under FARC control, leaving the big-time drug traffickers alone. http://monthlyreview.org/press/books/pb2518/
Western banks 'reaping billions from Colombian cocaine trade' By Ed Vulliamy The Observer, Saturday 2 June 2012
Iran Contra docshttp://www.pinknoiz.com/covert/irancontra.html
The Case of Richard Horn DEA in Burma
Ex-DEA Agent Wins 16-Year Legal Battle | Main Justice 31 Mar 2010 ... Ex-DEA Agent Wins 16-Year Legal Battle ... A federal judge in the District of Columbia endorsed a $3 million settlement with Richard A. Horn
Former DEA Agent Reaches Tentative Settlement in CIA Case 1 Oct 2009 ... Former DEA Agent Reaches Tentative Settlement in CIA Case ... The lawsuit, brought by Richard A. Horn, accused the CIA of illegally bugging ...
Bugged coffee table used by CIA against State Department and DEA employees
Former DEA agent's lawsuit exposes CIA "fraud" Posted by Bill Conroy - July 26, 2009 at 3:16 pm http://narcosphere.narconews.com/notebook/bill-conroy/2009/07/former-dea-agents-lawsuit-exposes-cia-fraud DEA Agent’s Whistleblower Case Exposes the “War on Drugs” as a “War of Pretense”
Agent’s Sealed Legal Case Dismissed on National Security Grounds; Details Leaked to Narco News
By Bill Conroy Special to The Narco News Bulletin September 7, 2004 http://www.narconews.com/Issue34/article1063.html
CIA Internal Investigation
"When CIA Inspector General Fred P. Hitz testified before the House Intelligence Committee in March 1998, he admitted a secret government interagency agreement. `Let me be frank about what we are finding,' Hitz said. `There are instances where CIA did not, in an expeditious or consistent fashion, cut off relationships with individuals supporting the Contra program who were alleged to have engaged in drug trafficking activity.'
"The lawmakers fidgeted uneasily. `Did any of these allegations involved trafficking in the United States?' asked Congressman Norman Dicks of Washington. `Yes,' Hitz answered. Dicks flushed."
"And what, Hitz was asked, had been the CIA's legal responsibility when it learned of this? That issue, Hitz replied haltingly, had `a rather odd history...the period of 1982 to 1995 was one in which there was no official requirement to report on allegations of drug trafficking with respect to non-employees of the agency, and they were defined to include agents, assets, non-staff employees.' There had been a secret agreement to that effect `hammered out between the CIA and U.S. Attorney General William French Smith in 1982,' he testified."
Hitz concluded his testimony by stating “This is the grist for more work, if anyone wants to do it.”
Overview: Report of Investigation
Report of Investigation -- Volume I: (96-0143-IG) The California Story, Office of Inspector General
Allegations of Connections Between CIA and The Contras in Cocaine Trafficking to the United States https://www.cia.gov/library/reports/general-reports-1/cocaine/report/index.html
Report of Investigation -- Volume II: (96-0143-IG) The Contra Story, Office of Inspector General
Allegations of Connections Between CIA and The Contras in Cocaine Trafficking to the United States (1) https://www.cia.gov/library/reports/general-reports-1/cocaine/contra-story/contents.html
Findings- Describes what crimes they were required to report (Obviously not drugs) and the history of the MOU (only half of the 600+ pages in the report were released)
Hitz, Frederick P. "Obscuring Propriety: The CIA and Drugs." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 12, no. 4 (Winter 1999): 448-462.
Statement of Michael R. Bromwich, Inspector General. U.S. Department of Justice before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence concerning The Office of the Inspector General report entitled The CIA-Contra-Crack Cocaine Controversy: A Review of the Justice Department’s Investigations and Prosecutions May 25, 1999 . 407-page report was completed in December 1997.
USDOJ/OIG Special Report THE CIA-CONTRA-CRACK COCAINE CONTROVERSY: A REVIEW OF THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT’S INVESTIGATIONS AND PROSECUTIONS (December, 1997)
CIA’S BIN LADEN CT UNIT RUN BY CARTEL HITMAN SUSPECTED IN 7 MURDERS
Journalist Evan Wright discovers ties between drug cartels and CIA outsourcing of assassinations and intelligence to private contractors. When Wright interviewed a drug trafficker named Jon Roberts, he disclosed participation in a murder with a hitman who would later join the CIA and rise to the top level of the agency. Meyer Lansky’s stepson Richard Schwartz was killed on October 12, 1977, allegedly by the man who would eventually run the unit hunting for terrorist Osama Bin Laden. Ric Prado joined the CIA in 1982. By the time of the 9/11 attacks, he was the chief of counterterrorist operations with the rank of SIS-2. He would later leave the CIA to become a Vice-President at Blackwater from 2004 to 2008. The evidence against Ric Prado was so compelling that one investigator from the case described him as “technically, a serial killer.” Mike Fisten, a former Miami-Dade detective who served on the federal task force stated “The CIA fought us tooth and nail, and basically told us to go fuck ourselves.” Evan Wright interviewed more than a dozen law enforcement officials for this story. He was told “You can’t indict people like Prado. It doesn’t work that way.”
The Terrifying Background of the Man Who Ran a CIA Assassination Unit
By Conor Friedersdorf (July27, 2012)
A federal investigation alleged Enrique Prado's involvement in seven murders, yet he was in charge when America outsourced covert killing to a private company.
Did a CIA Agent Work for the Mob?
Thursday, June 28, 2012, 1:57am (PDT) By Evan Wright
How to Get Away with Murder in America
Retired CIA Officer Robert D. Steele appeared with Celerino Castillo III in Kevin Booth’s 2007 film American Drug War: The Last White Hope along with several other notable law enforcement agents and political figures. Steele went on to review Dark Alliance and validated the Contra drug allegations. His comments go even further as he alleges that intelligence agencies employed a “eugenics” policy towards low income blacks, considering them “expendable”. “It is safe to say that all US Senators know the truth and have chosen to betray their Oaths of Office and their responsibility under Article 1 of the Constitution…. We the People are considered expendable by those who do this.”
The full Two hour film is here:
CIA Case Officer from Central American Era Validates This Book, June 9, 2007
By Robert D. Steele
This review is from: Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion
I am probably the only reviewer who was a clandestine case officer (three back to back tours), who participated in the Central American follies as both a field officer and a desk officer at CIA HQS, who is also very broadly read.
With great sadness, I must conclude that this book is truthful, accurate, and explosive.
Website of Robert D.Steele: http://www.phibetaiota.net/
I FOUND THIS ON CRAIG MURRAY'S SITE:THE ORIGINAL STATE SPONSORED DRUG TRAFFIC….AFRICAN AMERICANS WERE NOT THE FIRST VICTIMS OF STATE SPONSORED DRUG DEALING, JUST THE LATEST. THE OPIUM WARS ARE WELL DOCUMENTED AND ARE PART OF THE REASON BRITISH EMPIRE GOT A HOLD OF TERRITORIES SUCH AS HONG KONG. NARCO COLONIALISM CONTINUES ON. IF ANYONE ELSE HAS GOOD ARTICLES ON THE OPIUM WARS, PLEASE POST THEM HERE:1
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium_Warshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Opium_Warhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Opium_War2This war with China . . . really seems to me so wicked as to be a national sin of the greatest possible magnitude, and it distresses me very deeply. Cannot any thing be done by petition or otherwise to awaken men's minds to the dreadful guilt we are incurring? I really do not remember, in any history, of a war undertaken with such combined injustice and baseness. Ordinary wars of conquest are to me far less wicked, than to go to war in order to maintain smuggling, and that smuggling consisting in the introduction of a demoralizing drug, which the government of China wishes to keep out, and which we, for the lucre of gain, want to introduce by force; and in this quarrel are going to burn and slay in the pride of our supposed superiority. — Thomas Arnold to W. W. Hull, March 18, 1840
http://www.sacu.org/opium.html http://www.sacu.org/opium2.html**************************4Article on opium trade in 1920s Shanghaihttp://streetsofshanghai.pbworks.com/w/page/18638691/Opium**********************5
November 24, 2012 in United Nations
Despite the eradication of opium poppy by Governor-led Eradication (GLE) having increased by 154% in comparison to its 2011 level (9,672 hectares eradicated in 2012), the total area under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan was estimated at 154,000 hectares (125,000 – 189,000) in 2012.While that represents a 18% increase in cultivation, potential opium production was estimated at 3,700 tons (2,800 – 4,200 tons) in 2012, a 36% decrease from the previous year. This was due to a decrease in opium yield caused by a combination of a disease of the opium poppy and adverse weather conditions, particularly in the Eastern, Western and Southern regions of the country.The high level of opium prices reported in 2011 was one of the principal factors that led to the increase in opium poppy cultivation in 2012. However, while opium prices remained high during 2012 there was some decline in all regions of the country, though differences between regions became more and more pronounced.The vast majority (95%) of total cultivation took place in nine provinces in Afghanistan’s Southern and Western regions,6 which include the most insecure provinces in the country. Opium cultivation increased in most of the main opium poppy-growing provinces, including Farah, Nangarhar, Badghis and Nimroz, whereas cultivation remained stable in Uruzgan and decreased by 11% in Kandahar, the second most important poppycultivating province between 2009 and 2011.Opium cultivation rose by 19% in Hilmand which, with 75,176 hectares or 49% of total opium cultivation in 2012, remained the largest opium-cultivating province in Afghanistan. However, a separate estimate was also available for the Hilmand “Food Zone” alternative livelihood project 8 , which showed that relatively less poppy is cultivated within the food zone than outside it.Opium cultivation also increased in the Eastern region where it rose significantly in Kunar (121%), Kapisa (60%) and Laghman (41%) provinces. However, the Eastern region contributed only 4% to the national total of opium production in 2012. In the Northern region, opium cultivation increased by 10% in Baghlan province despite the eradication of 252 hectares in 2012.……
Despite the eradication of opium poppy by Governor-led Eradication (GLE) having increased by 154% in comparison to its 2011 level (9,672 hectares eradicated in 2012), the total area under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan was estimated at 154,000 hectares (125,000 – 189,000) in 2012.
While that represents a 18% increase in cultivation, potential opium production was estimated at 3,700 tons (2,800 – 4,200 tons) in 2012, a 36% decrease from the previous year. This was due to a decrease in opium yield caused by a combination of a disease of the opium poppy and adverse weather conditions, particularly in the Eastern, Western and Southern regions of the country.
The high level of opium prices reported in 2011 was one of the principal factors that led to the increase in opium poppy cultivation in 2012. However, while opium prices remained high during 2012 there was some decline in all regions of the country, though differences between regions became more and more pronounced.
The vast majority (95%) of total cultivation took place in nine provinces in Afghanistan’s Southern and Western regions,6 which include the most insecure provinces in the country. Opium cultivation increased in most of the main opium poppy-growing provinces, including Farah, Nangarhar, Badghis and Nimroz, whereas cultivation remained stable in Uruzgan and decreased by 11% in Kandahar, the second most important poppycultivating province between 2009 and 2011.
Opium cultivation rose by 19% in Hilmand which, with 75,176 hectares or 49% of total opium cultivation in 2012, remained the largest opium-cultivating province in Afghanistan. However, a separate estimate was also available for the Hilmand “Food Zone” alternative livelihood project 8 , which showed that relatively less poppy is cultivated within the food zone than outside it.
Opium cultivation also increased in the Eastern region where it rose significantly in Kunar (121%), Kapisa (60%) and Laghman (41%) provinces. However, the Eastern region contributed only 4% to the national total of opium production in 2012. In the Northern region, opium cultivation increased by 10% in Baghlan province despite the eradication of 252 hectares in 2012.
Tags: Afghanistan, Drug Trafficking, Opium, United Nations No Comments »
The DOJ is reportedly negotiating a deferred prosecution agreement, the author writes. | AP Photo
After reading the Senate Permanent Investigations Subcommittee report, I am convinced that HSBC should be criminally prosecuted. So should its responsible officers and board members.
The report and follow-up hearings have shown that the bank has knowingly violated many criminal laws. Individuals convicted of similar violations are now in jail — with sentences of up to 40 years. The only case that comes close to matching the range of crimes that HSBC committed is the Bank of Credit and Commerce International — the “bank of crooks and criminals,” which I investigated back in the late 1980s. It was closed and its leadership was prosecuted. HSBC deserves the same treatment.
The Justice Department is now reportedly negotiating a deferred prosecution agreement with the bank. HSBC might have to pay a $1 billion fine, according to some news reports and promise not to violate the law again.
For HSBC, given the size of its profits, the length of time over which it broke the law and the seriousness of the offenses, a billion-dollar settlement is like a parking ticket. One 20th of one year’s profits as a fine for 10 years of flagrant criminal behavior makes no sense.
The bankers who went along with the crimes should also be charged. They were clear in their directions to underlings — get a 15 percent return on equity and disregard the law if you have to. They fired compliance officers who tried to do their job. They fired employees who raised questions and who complained about lack of resources.
The corporate leadership must be charged — if only to protect the integrity of the compliance function. If compliance officers can be fired with impunity for doing their jobs, why have them?
Regulators and prosecutors have ignored the problem of mistreated compliance officers in past cases. Martin Woods, the Wachovia Bank compliance officer in London, was fired for bringing bulk money laundering for the Mexican cartels to management’s attention. When they failed to listen, he spoke to regulators.
No one at Wachovia was even reprimanded for firing him. HSBC must have been encouraged by that Wachovia outcome.
The list of HSBC crimes and violations includes:
• Bulk money laundering for the Mexican drug cartels;
• Selling traveler’s checks in bulk to Russian gangsters to help them launder money;
• Helping the governments of Iran, North Korea, Myanmar and others evade U.S. and U.N. sanctions;
• Offering customers products to help them evade taxes in the United States and in other countries;
• Offering banking services to “bearer share corporations,” in violation of U.S., European and Financial Action Task Force know-your-customer rules and recommendations;
• Firing compliance officers who have a statutory duty to report to the board when they believe there are problems to address.
In addition, HSBC is under investigation for rigging the Libor rate along with Barclays and other major banks.
Congress included a provision in the laws against money laundering that requires the government to revoke the banking license of firms that violate the law. Prosecutors have, in the past, danced away from prosecution because the Justice and Treasury departments have thought that law too draconian. Banks now expect that, no matter how bad their behavior, paying a fine and promising to be good will cover any misdeed.
We now have a long list of banks that have entered into deferred prosecution agreements. These clearly don’t provide the necessary deterrence. The stock market has clearly recognized their limited value. As the Senate hearing began, the HSBC share price rose on the London market. It was responding to the possibility of a deferred prosecution agreement.
In addition, there is the outrageous issue of the Treasury revolving door. HSBC hired Stuart Levey as a group managing director and chief legal officer. He had been Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. He was a senior official at the Justice Department just before this. Though there was a one-year gap between his leaving Treasury and his HSBC start date, the investigation was already under way when he was at Treasury. Levey should be barred from meeting with or discussing the case with anyone in the administration.
Americans have been asking why there have been virtually no prosecutions of banks or bankers in the wake of the financial crisis. We have all heard complaints about the difficulty of making the case and identifying responsible individuals. Here is a case that cries out for real prosecutorial action.
Jack Blum, a lawyer who specializes on issues of money laundering and financial crime, spent 14 years as a Senate investigator with the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He played a central role in the 1970s Lockheed Aircraft bribery investigation, which led to the passage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the investigation of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International. He is now chairman of Tax Justice Network USA.**************
The plea filed in a US federal court by Mexican drug-trafficker Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla – one of the top members of the Sinaloa Cartel – that he was protected by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in exchange for information on the organization’s rivals should come as no surprise, even if it threatens to be another embarrassment for Washington’s “drug warriors”.
Zambada, who was extradited to the US in 2010 and is currently awaiting trial in Chicago, says a deal was made as far back as 1998 by which the Sinaloa Cartel was given carte-blanche to traffic drugs, and its bosses – including Mexico’s biggest drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman – granted immunity from prosecution. Zambada was arrested by Mexican authorities hours after he alleges a sneaky meeting took place between him, the cartel’s attorney and DEA agents in Mexico City in 2009.
Zambada also claims that the DEA tipped off cartel leaders about anti-narcotics operations so they could evade arrest and suggests that “Operation Fast and Furious” – whereby the US government illegally smuggled weapons to Mexico in a failed “sting operation” – was designed to arm the Sinaloa Cartel and its allies.
http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/09/07/the-sweet-deal-with-%E2%80%98el-narco%E2%80%99/click the link to read the full article....*****************off topic.....
Fri Jul 31, 2009 at 05:01 AM PDT
Great article on Robert Baer, mentions some of the scandals.....
When I first met ex-CIA officer Bob Baer in Washington DC, I thought, The guy looks nothing like George Clooney. But Clooney, who won an Academy Award playing Baer in the film Syriana, had in fact captured something about the posture, the pathos, the weariness of a CIA man who spends too many years getting filthy in the field – in the peculiar mire of the Middle East, no less – risking his life and being ignored for it. Clooney in the film cycles among the suits at Langley, the cubicled bureaucracy, looking somewhat like the only sane man in a mental ward.
So it was with Bob Baer in DC – unfamiliar ground, “a city of crazies,” he said. He was heading back home, out west, to the little mountain village of Silverton, and when I met him there a few months later, he took me on the big tour. Silverton is a mining outpost turned tourist stop, but it still resonates with the dissident manners of men who dig silver out of the ground looking for paydirt and don’t like the authorities interfering. The town is accessed by high passes where tractor trailers regularly fall off the cliffs in winter, and it has only one paved road, Main Street, and it has a church with upside-down crosses. Several residents – so Baer assured me – are licensed to own fully-automatic machineguns. “It’s to shoot at the black helicopters,” he laughed but didn’t seem to be joking. The locals tell me the place has a tendency to welcome “people who messed up in some other life and come here to be nobody.” I think Bob Baer came here partly because the CIA claimed he messed up. Maybe he did. Depends on who you talk to in this business, which is as it should be among professional liars.
Because maybe it was the Agency that messed up – this seems to be a CIA habit, the kind of habit that fails to see Al Qaeda on the horizon, that gets the country mired in Iraq, that makes you wonder, as a tax-paying citizen, whether the agency in its current incarnation has a reason for being other than to squander your money. It’s something the citizens in Silverton might grouse about.
Robert Baer dedicated 21 years to the storied Central Intelligence Agency, beginning in 1976, at age 22. He was a believer. He trained to blow things up – the tradition of covert action from which the CIA was born – and, more important, to make sure Americans didn’t get blown up. He trained to listen, watch, take notes. He dove into the cities of the Middle East, learning the spy game, learning to deceive and trick and be someone else, perfecting his Arabic, growing out his black beard, tanning his skin. The Middle East was his crucible and eventually his obsession. He became so good he passed as native, wandering Beirut in the 1980s during the civil war that ravaged Lebanon, wearing a headband that announced, in the calligraphy of the Qu’ran, We Crave Martyrdom. “These fucking Americans are everywhere,” he’d tell his cabbies, looking to flush out martyrs. “We should blow up their embassy!” As early as 1983, he was chronicling the threat of Islamist terrorist networks in memos that he says few of the people who mattered in Langley or the Oval Office bothered to read. His work would win him the CIA’s Career Intelligence Medal; Seymour Hersh, the dean of intelligence reporters in Washington DC and a personal friend, once called him the “best field operative the CIA had in the Middle East.” The accolade from his higher-ups felt like cruel irony when years later the Islamists he warned about smashed into American shores.
When he left the Agency in 1998, he hunkered down and wrote about his time as a spy. His first two books – a memoir, See No Evil, and an expose, Sleeping with the Devil, about the demented US relationship with the Saudis – netted him a deal with Hollywood. But what Syriana as film could not capture – because, after all, it’s a Hollywood operation and dedicated, like the CIA, to a good cover story, one that sells, keeps us watching without really understanding – is that the CIA isn’t very good at doing what it’s supposed to do, which is not to assassinate or to blow things up or to mount ill-conceived coups, but to know. The agency Baer labored for and loved has been credited in its lowest hours with so much foolery, atrocity, waste and deception, so much that is subterranean and unaccountable, and meanwhile it’s supposed to know what the rest of us can’t know, to get a grip on the secrets of the world, to be accountable in the final sense of providing what’s called “intelligence” – not stupidity.
So Baer had come to Silverton to get away from stupidity. He suggested we go hiking into the mountains. The day was warm and the sun high and the creeks full of melt. When I walked to meet him at his old refurbished miner’s shack off Main Street, across from the church with the upside-down crosses, his wife Dayna, an ex-CIA counterterrorism officer, was on the carpet with their newly adopted 13-month-old Pakistani orphan girl, Khyber, who smiled and smiled. “The Taliban judge in the adoption court didn’t trust two Americans wandering around the country looking for an orphan,” said Baer. “But the US embassy was worse.” He held Khyber’s little hand and kissed her foot and gave his impish smile. “I’m not sure whether she’s the daughter of a suicide bomber or a Taliban warrior we killed,” he said. Turned out neither was true. Then we went hiking.
The Central Intelligence Agency, established in 1947 under the National Security Act, was conceived by men who had learned the art of secret warfare in the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. The OSS was a commando outfit, designed for covert action – assassination of Nazis, bombing of bridges – but the CIA was supposed to be something better, more subtle, more complex. It would engage in covert action when the need arose, but preferably it would hang like fog over the countries it targeted, quiet and amorphous, floating in and out. In the wake of WWII, intelligence gathering was the stated goal, not brute intervention, certainly not murder. This was emphasized in the charter and the legislation that established the CIA, but the language of the law didn’t matter much.
The agency was, and remains, divided into two main branches. Foremost is the Directorate of Operations, the DO, which fields officers on the ground, trained in disappearing under cover, gathering information, and, in the extreme case, willing and able to engage in covert action, to fix elections, topple governments, arrange unfortunate deaths. The DO is better known as the clandestine services – it is the CIA imagined in movies, alternately garlanded and smoke-screened but always romanticized. By contrast, the Directorate of Intelligence, the DI, is staffed with intellectuals – the PhDs, the scientists, the psychiatrists, sociologists, the geeks – who analyze the information the DO officers are supposed bring in. From the start there was conflict between the two directorates: one the home of mavericks, operators, the men who got dirty, the other the ivory tower of the thinkers who filtered the raw data to make it palatable for consumption by politicians. In many ways, it’s a false dichotomy: the two directorates have worked hand in hand making bad decisions, but each habitually blames the other.
Bob Baer, from his own account, was an operations guy by nature. He grew up in the Colorado high country dreaming of a life as a competitive downhill skier. He liked to run sheer slopes where a bad decision meant you died wrapped in pines or tossed off cliffs or lost in a crevasse. The ambition stalled with his rotten performance at school – “Straight Fs, with a few worse grades,” as he recalls it, because he spent too much time on the slopes. His mother, heiress to a sizable fortune from Bob’s grandfather, had a reasonable answer. She took him to Europe for a kind of quack Henry James education at age 15, the schooling of a nascent CIA field man. Bob and his mom traversed Europe for several years – his father, who “wasn’t good for anything,” had abandoned the family – and by 1968, they were in Paris when the city was burning and students were rioting. He soon learned French, then German when his mother bought a Land Rover and headed east, aimed improbably for Moscow. The Rover was an old piece of junk, “like riding a John Deere tractor.” When they limped out of Prague, Soviet tanks passed them on the road, dispatched to crush the Prague Spring. They made it Moscow, then Helsinki, then home to the states, where Baer was sent by his mother to a military school. The discipline somehow took, and he was accepted into Georgetown University, graduating with a degree in international relations and, on a lark, he passed the Foreign Service exam. A year later, crashed out on a friend’s couch in Berkeley, with no job prospects and not much ambition for anything but the life of a ski bum, he applied, again on a lark, to the CIA. He imagined a sinecure in the Alps, where he might spy on European governments between runs in the powder.
Instead, Baer was dumped into the bowels of New Delhi to scope out Soviet influence in India. He was now a Cold Warrior. When he arrived to the house provided as cover, he was greeted by seven servants lined up under “a huge banyan tree and a pergola of jasmine that arched over the entire length of the driveway.” No snow, but this wasn’t so bad for a 25-year-old starting his first real job.
In 1976, the same year that Baer, bright-eyed and enamored, joined the Agency, a clandestine services veteran named John Stockwell, chief in the CIA’s disastrous Angola venture in the 1970s, prepared a series of investigative memoirs very much along the lines of the books Baer would write a quarter-century later. What Stockwell had seen as an operative in Africa and across the Third World was a CIA that was purely interventionist – not gathering intelligence, but brutally machinating, vicious, a secret weapon of US presidents and White House policymakers to battle the Soviets for world control. CIA paramilitary operations through proxy forces – the funding of mercenaries, terrorists, saboteurs – were, reported Stockwell, “all illegal,” their goal to “disrupt the normal functioning, often the democratic functioning, of other societies” (a blinding flash of the obvious for readers today). For Stockwell, who would quit the CIA in 1976 to whistleblow before Congress, this “rais[ed] serious questions about the moral responsibility of the United States in the international society of nations.” Secrecy in pursuit of the mercurial thing called “national security,” he wrote, had given license to amorality that issued from the highest rungs of government: “The major function of secrecy in Washington is to keep the U.S. people and U.S. Congress from knowing what the nation’s leaders are doing,” he wrote. “Secrecy is power. Secrecy covers up mistakes. Secrecy covers up corruption.” And in the CIA, he concluded, “a profound, arrogant, moral corruption set in.” Ex-CIA analyst Chalmers Johnson came to a similar conclusion: “Every president since Truman, once he discovered that he had a totally secret, financially unaccountable private army at his personal disposal found its deployment irresistible.”
By the mid-1970s, however, the veil was torn wide. Congress under the direction of Sen. Frank Church in 1975-76 issued a devastating series of reports on the criminality of the agency. The CIA had sponsored coups and fixed elections in Greece, Italy, Burma, Indonesia and dozens of other nations. It had smuggled Nazi war criminals out of Germany to fight communism in Eastern Europe; it worked arm in arm with narcotics traffickers in Asia, Europe, the Middle East (and always seemed to leave behind a thriving drug nexus wherever it intervened); it supplied security forces worldwide with torture equipment, torture manuals, torture training. In Vietnam, its massive Saigon Station oversaw the kidnapping and killing of tens of thousands of suspected Vietcong, many of them innocents, doing a good job of turning the peasant population against the US. The rot came out almost daily as the Church Committee dug it up. By the late 1970s, the CIA had planned or carried out the assassination of leaders in more than a dozen countries; CIA jokers called this “suicide involuntarily administered,” courtesy of the Agency’s “Health Alteration Committee.” The agency’s work disrupting governments was often in service of corporations with close ties to Congress and the White House and whose business interests were threatened by anything that smelled of socialism. The agency had been busy too on the homefront, in violation of domestic law, overseeing mind control programs in which unwitting Americans were poisoned with drugs, experimented upon, effectively tortured; opening the mail of US citizens; surveilling the political activity of Americans; infiltrating the media with disinformation; lying habitually to elected officials. The CIA appeared in this light as a threat to the republic itself.
Not much of this perturbed young Bob Baer, who was finishing his senior year at Georgetown as the Church revelations splashed across the front pages of the Washington Post and New York Times. “I was left with the impression,” he wrote in his memoir, “that behind the dirt there must be some deep, dark, impenetrable mystery – a forbidden knowledge.” Sojourning with his mother across Europe had given him a “romantic view of the world,” and the CIA, he said, “seemed for a moment like romance itself.”
Historians will argue the point, but in the wake of the Church hearings a kind of reform fell over the agency, certainly a scaling back of covert action that heralded the end of what nostalgics might call the heroic age of free-wheeling interventionism – though the reform didn’t last. Baer matured as a field officer under the new dispensation, tasked to do what the CIA claimed it now wanted from the clandestine services: Not to disrupt or destabilize or assassinate – presidential directive 12333, issued in 1981, explicitly prohibited CIA assassinations – but to listen, speak the language, gather sources, stay quiet with an ear to the ground, know your host country, the critical issues, the people and players, learn the streets of the city where you’re posted, disappear into the fabric of the society. Learn to move like fog. Any case officer will tell you this is a lot harder than it sounds. CIA officers who worked with Baer tell me he excelled at it wherever he went, in Beirut in the 1980s, in the disaster of Iraq post-Gulf War I, in Khartoum tracking terrorists, in Tajikistan as station chief, in Sarajevo during the Yugoslav wars, in Paris working cocktail parties.
Tradecraft was the key. You learned to dodge surveillance and to run surveillance. You learned how to tap phones and to make sure you weren’t tapped. You learned about the enemy’s weapons, battle plans, the latest technologies. You devoured books, a CIA man devoting himself as a regional scholar. You learned to use the toys of the trade, weird poisons like “Who, Me?”, which makes the victim smell literally like shit for days, the stench seeping from his pores. You used standard-issue James Bond items like microdots, photographic negatives reduced to the size of a period on a page, and you learned stegonography, the art of caching data inside photographs. You learned disguises. Baer thought highly of the Diamond-Tooth Disguise – a false diamond incisor in your smile-line and “the only thing people remember about you is that diamond.” You learned covers for action and covers for status, the latter being the big picture explanation for why you’re in-country. Most often your cover for status is that you work in some capacity for the US embassy, a day job shuffling paper (Baer, like all CIA case officers, is constrained by lifetime contract with the CIA from revealing his status covers over the years).
The real work is after dark, when the embassy shuts down. Then you hit the streets, the bars, the alleys, the dingy hotel rooms where you debrief your “agents,” the locals you’ve turncoated to work betraying their own government, stealing secrets. Covers for action were the life or death of a mission, the determinant whether you’d head home for the night or get caught on a capital crime for spying. The Laundry Cover came in handy. If you’re running around a city late at night, make sure you know where the nearest 24 hour laundromat is, make sure you have the dirty laundry with you – it has to be really dirty – and “make sure you’re dirty too.” Babies in a stroller are good cover. Dogs late at night are good cover for dead-drops, because you can look to the dog as an excuse for your wandering. “You can also hide messages,” says Baer, “in the dog poop.”
The Mom Cover was one of Baer’s inventions. “I’ve taken my mom as cover to the diciest places,” he tells me. “I took her to the Garm Valley in 1992, in Tajikistan, which had just been overrun by Bin Laden extremists.” Baer’s purpose as chief of station in Tajikistan was to find out how and where the factions were operating. “We had an old Niva sedan with stolen Afghan diplomat plates and got stopped by twelve gunmen, fighting the civil war, who were filthy and cut up and hadn’t washed in weeks. My mother said, ‘Oh hello, how are you? I’m his mother. And where are you from?’ Some of the gunmen spoke English. They finally gave us tea.”
So here was Baer among Jordanian princes, rogue oil traders in Iraq. Here he was in 1993 stealing a kilo of cocaine from the airplane of Morocco’s King Hasan, simply to prove that one of our allies in the Middle East was a drug runner (“I wanted to rub Washington’s nose in it.&rdquo. In Sarajevo he posed as an arms dealer, in Iraq he was an assassin, in Paris a pimp. Once he was stalked by wolves on the Silk Road. In Tajikistan, he spent his off-time cultivating his counterparts in the KGB, parachuting with them drunk on vodka or racing around in their tanks for a goof (headquarters reprimanded him for his initiative). In the Tajik capital of Dushanbe, he found himself in the middle of an Islamic uprising, holed up in a hotel room with a cache of Stinger missiles, while people were shot in the town square and a man with a bull-horn screamed, “THERE ARE SPIES AMONG US.”
Then there was Beirut in the 1980s, where Baer would fully understand the stakes intelligence work presented, the answers it could unfold. Beirut was a tragic experience for the United States in the Middle East, eclipsed only by the disaster of the Iraq occupation 20 years later. It began with the car bombing of the American embassy in April 1983, which killed 63 Americans, including six CIA officers. Six months later, 241 US soldiers died in a car-bombing of the Marine barracks. Then, in the spring of 1984, the beloved head of the CIA station in Beirut, William Francis Buckley, was kidnapped by elements of Hezbollah, and by 1985, Buckley in captivity was dead from pneumonia. Never before had the CIA suffered so many losses in such short order.
No one knew who was behind the car bombings, least of all the CIA. Solving the mystery became an obsession for Baer, and he set out on a four-year odyssey in the Beirut Station to get the answer. Working Beirut was dangerous. The place was shelled and rocketed daily, infested with snipers, divided into fiefdoms controlled by Druz militiamen, Hezbollah, Fatah terrorists. Baer operated among them all. “Bob knew Beirut better than anyone I met there,” said former CIA officer John Maguire, now retired, who spied with him at the Beirut station for several years in the 1980s. “He worked both sides of the Green Line, east Beirut, and west Beirut, the southern suburbs, and the Biqa valley. He was a recruiter, and he worked alone, did it 24-7, with no fanfare, no back up.” Baer finally concluded, in 1987, that the Islamist regime of Iran, employing local Fatah proxies, was the key player behind the embassy bombing and the Buckley kidnapping. The revelations, said Baer, didn’t register at headquarters. “It was old history by then. They just didn’t care. It was my first realization of the historical amnesia at the agency,” he says now.
Baer claims he would go on to produce no small supply of intelligence in the Middle East and Central Asia. He recruited an asset inside Hezbollah, which had never before been done. He says he prevented a terrorist attack on the USS New Jersey, which was to be rocketed off the coast of Lebanon. In the 1980s, he began plumbing the network of Islamists known as the Muslim Brotherhood, whose members would later link into Al Qaeda. “I told headquarters, ‘Hey guys we gotta do something about the Brotherhood, they’re up to no good,’” Baer told me. “I went to Germany, found a Brotherhood source, but no one in DC was interested and they let the guy disappear.” The source, Baer claims, was a member of the same cell that Mohammed Atta would join in Hamburg years later in preparation for the attacks of 9/11.
The point, he told me again and again, is that the higher-ups at the CIA who reported to the White House did not seem to value real intelligence, the slow organic process of gathering information in bits and understanding it. Presidents serve for four years; they want results today, they want intelligence that serves the political agenda that ensures re-election. CIA director George Tenet in the run-up to the Iraq war provided just this kind of intelligence. The Iraqi WMDs were a “slam-dunk,” said Tenet, and his pronouncement fit with the chief justification for a war the Bush Administration had predetermined. But the WMDs were an illusion, and meanwhile there were dissenters on the ground in the CIA who said as much and were ignored.
One day when I asked Baer to list his achievements as a spy, he offered up a litany of serious work. “I also fixed the coffee machine on the 6th floor and fucked George Tenet’s wife,” he joked.
Historical amnesia might seem a habit of every American administration since the founding of the national security state in 1947, but it stands out as a world-historic problem in the post-9/11 environment. The attacks from Iran’s proxies in Beirut – the bombings of American military and intelligence sites, the kidnapping of Buckley – arguably presented a classic case of history coming back to haunt the CIA in the form of “blowback.” Ex-CIA analyst Chalmers Johnson has made a career writing about blowback, the CIA’s term of art for when interventionism results in long-term negative consequences for US national security. Johnson in his three books on the topic – his first was subtitled The Costs and Consequences of American Empire – makes a compelling universal argument for blowback as systemic in US foreign policy post-World War II.
In hindsight, Iranian blowback against the US should have been expected, as easy to understand as the law of gravity. In 1953, the CIA helped to topple the democratically-elected president of Iran, a socialist named Mohammed Mossadegh who threatened to nationalize British oil interests. The agency installed the tyrannical Shah, who was friendly to oil corporations while instituting a reign of terror that begat the Islamic Revolution of 1979 – the same Islamists who stormed the US embassy to take 53 American hostages and spark the hostage crisis that would unravel the presidency of Jimmy Carter, the same Islamists who now aggressed against the US in Beirut, where the US also happened to be intervening. During this period, the CIA was providing arms to another group of Islamist revolutionaries in Afghanistan, who were fighting off a Soviet invasion. The past in Afghanistan was prologue: Our Islamist allies there would coalesce into Al Qaeda to provide a particularly nasty example of blowback on September 11, 2001.
How Bob Baer came to his unhappy end at the CIA after 21 years of service, reduced overnight to the status of pariah and forced to quit, is a matter of dispute. By 1995 he was head of CIA operations in northern Iraq, based in Kurdish-held Salah-Al-Din, tasked with organizing opposition to the regime of Saddam Hussein. It was his first foray into covert action, and it would be his last. In early 1995, his sources inside the Iraqi army were talking about a coup attempt, the toppling of Saddam and the installing of a military junta friendly to the US. This seemed to accord with Baer’s mission. For months he had been directing Kurdish forces, with CIA support, to attack Saddam’s army outposts in the north. The attacks resulted in the deaths of thousands of Iraqi soldiers. (When I asked Baer if he had ever committed assassinations for the agency, he said, “Nope, sorry to disappoint, but I ordered the deaths of over 2,000 Iraqis in paramilitary operations. Does that make me an assassin or a mass murderer?&rdquo
Washington said he had overstepped his authority in supporting the coup planners. Baer claimed that the Clinton Administration had in fact given the go-ahead, then balked at the last minute. Baer’s feeling was that the administration didn’t know what it wanted, was too “politically correct,” and that he was the scapegoat for its indecision. The coup, when it finally unfolded, was crushed unceremoniously, the rebel generals killed.
What then happened strained Baer’s imagination. He was recalled to headquarters, investigated by the FBI, his passports confiscated, and he was charged – absurdly, it seemed, given the CIA’s history of screw-ups that went unpunished – with attempted murder for conspiring to assassinate a foreign leader. Baer claimed he was only following orders. After a six month inquiry, he was exonerated of the charge. The ironies abound. Baer had excelled in intelligence, not intervention, and his only attempt at covert action would backfire to ruin his career. He was permanently desk-jobbed, hating the air-conditioned bureaucracy of Washington, knowing he’d never get posted again in the field where he thrived. At the very moment when his career in the agency should have taken a turn for the better, he quit.
Now he surveyed the landscape of his life, and it was not pretty. He was broke, priced out of the bubble-economy real estate in DC, and, accustomed to living in hellholes and on the edge, he felt like a stranger in his own country. His family was in shambles after years of neglect. His marriage, he said, was loveless, sexless – he had long been escaping it purposely in assignments overseas. He was a pariah to his three children, an absentee father. “There’s this whole bullshit that they’ll come back to you in the end,” he says today. “But that’s, well, bullshit. My kids basically lie to me about everything. Their grades. Their lives.” He soon got divorced, and re-married to a colleague, a CIA agent named Dayna Williamson, who he met while posted working the war in Sarajevo. Dayna was a social worker in Orange County before she joined the agency, became a “shooter” in the CIA’s Office of Security, trained to kill with a pistol, trained in “target acquisition” in crowds using a quick-draw purse with a false bottom where she kept a Glock. She once worked protecting the queen of Jordan during public appearances. Orphaned from the agency, Bob and Dayna tried freelance intelligence consulting in Beirut, old and familiar territory. One of the first offers Baer got was to commit an assassination. That wasn’t an option.
Instead, he would study Latin and Greek, would become a scholar. He read Aristotle, Herodotus, Polybius, Tacitus in the original tongue. He thought about writing books, something about his saga with the CIA. The idea made sense. It might even earn him money. Baer worked for two years to complete “See No Evil,” and, when the book hit stores in early 2002, pegged to the 9/11 attacks, it was a best-seller. Its argument was commonsensical and certainly held no news: The CIA had forgotten that intelligence depended on human beings in the field, what’s called in the parlance “humint.” Computers crunching data, the satellites snapping photos from miles in the sky – these wouldn’t save us. The failure to trust the perils of humint, argued Baer, helped allow 9/11 to happen. He dedicated the book to his kids: “I hope this goes a little way,” he wrote, “in explaining where I was for all those years.”
Baer liked the discipline of writing; it played to his strengths as a spy. He could accomplish it alone, with no oversight, cultivating sources, listening on his own terms, unconstrained by the bureaucracy. A number of ex-CIA case officers I spoke to said Baer’s memoir rang true: The CIA did not value its people in the dirt. Ex-CIA deep cover agent Ishmael Jones, who last year published a pseudonymous memoir, “The Human Factor,” about his disillusioning years at the CIA, told me: “Baer’s achievements in books show that he is very talented and intelligent. Imagine what he could have done for our national security in a functioning clandestine service.” This is perhaps the greatest irony: Baer needed to leave the agency to fully thrive. Working for the CIA was “a little boy’s adventure,” Baer told me. “But you don’t mature. You don’t grow up.”
When Hollywood came calling after the success of “See No Evil” and Syriana went into production in 2004, Baer snagged a cameo role, playing an FBI agent. He had one line, demanding George Clooney give up his “passports” – in the plural – and he kept flubbing it. There are a lot of ex-CIA officers who tell me they’ve laughed at the Syriana version of the CIA, among them Bob Baer.
What Syriana offers, beyond its obvious portrait of the symbiosis of big oil and aggressive foreign policy, is a clean conspiracist choreography of agency men. The CIA dances without fail to the tune of oil corporation executives and DC lobbyists and lawyers who, in undisclosed channels as ethereal as ESP, order the agency to assassinate a Middle Eastern emir the oil corporations don’t like. This preposterous clockwork CIA world is run, like most CIA conspiracies on film, with no snags, no accidents, no bureaucratic in-fighting, no paperwork, no stupidity or incompetence or laziness, and certainly nothing of the tiresome and tragically boring real world interregnums where officers like Baer sweat in those hotel rooms in Beirut debriefing sources, slowly making connections, piecing the puzzle or not piecing it at all. Real intelligence work doesn’t make for good movies.
In this regard, Syriana is a remarkably dated vision that aligns nicely with the agency of the 1950s and 1960s that swooped around the planet toppling governments during the golden age of covert action, back when the CIA was deadly effective and not the clipped-wing thing it is today. One could argue that Syriana is in fact a kind of backhanded propaganda, as deafeningly simplistic as a James Bond film. “The objection I have with Baer’s work is that the entertainment angle unintentionally shows the CIA as an efficient organization,” says Ishmael Jones, who spent 15 years in deep cover with the agency. “Syriana may seem a negative portrayal of the CIA – as an organization of assassins seeking to advance American oil company interests – but it also presents the CIA as all-knowing, determined, tough and hard-working. The CIA, as a living creature, would prefer this portrayal to that of being devoted only to its own feeding and growth, avoiding rigorous work and foreign duty.” When I asked Baer about his fellow officer’s assessment, he shot back in an e-mail: “He’s right.”
The real story that Syriana missed is that the CIA today has more employees, more hangers-on in the bureaucracy, more private contractors, a fatter budget than ever, and it still can’t seem to effectively deploy field agents for the fundamental purpose of human intelligence. In the long wake of 9/11, the agency, flush with money, engaged in vast new hiring, and the CIA now boasts over 20,000 employees, equal to the size of an army division. Most serve in the Directorate of Intelligence, the geek squad; less than 2,000 work in the clandestine services at the Directorate of Operations. But even the operations people are mostly staying home. According to Ishmael Jones, some 90 percent of CIA employees live and work in the comfort of the US, unaccustomed to drinking ditchwater and sleeping on cots; during the Cold War, perhaps 45 percent lived stateside. The physical evidence of the domesticity is all around Washington DC, in the form of huge new building construction for CIA offices.
“Before 9/11, the CIA was bureaucratic and sloppy, but after 9/11 it got viciously more so,” Jones wrote me recently in an e-mail describing how the bloat functions. “Instead of just calling someone and setting a meeting, as you do so often in your work as a journalist,” he told me, “the CIA will form committees to discuss how to contact someone and spend months on it. Then instead of calling the guy on the phone, they’ll do something wildly expensive – create a convention in Rome at a fancy hotel, prepare events and speakers, and then invite the guy to the convention. Or they buy the bank where he does business. Real estate is big, so maybe they’ll buy the house next door to the guy. These programs never seem to work because the conditions never seem to be just right for meeting the person. But meeting the man isn’t the goal,” Jones told me. “Making everyone look busy and making money disappear is.”
The agency is gripped in the privatization frenzy now commonplace in the US intelligence services, where officers are more interested in the revolving doors of the Beltway than, pace the Hollywood delusions of Syriana, whacking emirs halfway across the globe. The intelligence-industrial complex is worth as much as $50 billion a year, with private sector contracts outsourced to ex-CIA officers who offer their services to the agency at thrice what the average CIA staffer makes (and with far less effectiveness, according to sources like Jones, than even the wasteful staffers). This is a change unprecedented in the history of the agency. “You never saw a private contractor inside CIA in my time and no one talked about getting a contract when they left,” Baer tells me. “People retired and disappeared. It was like Cincinnatus. They went back to their farms. Look at George Tenet. He retires, makes millions of dollars on his book, and now he has multiple contracts consulting with the CIA. When he wrote his book, the CIA gave him researchers and an office – a classified office at Langley – so he could have the CIA do his fact-checking for him.” Ishmael Jones tells me that some $3 billion since 9/11 has been “wasted, lost or stolen” by ex-CIA officers working as contractors doing “support work,” running training programs, conducting “research,” writing “analysis.” Private companies fleecing the US government is an American tradition, more starkly in the last decade than ever before, but the difference, notes Jones, “is that CIA contractors have no oversight, no accountability.”
The new hiring, the bigger budgets, the growth in contracting is clearly predicated on the ostensible concerns of national security. All this effort is meant to defeat the noun called “terror” and find Bin Laden, who has taken up the useful spot on the horizon where Communism once loomed as the threat. Bob Baer profited from the Bin Laden threat industry with his first book. “There’s money, careers, whole reputations dependent on the Bin Laden threat. But the threat has come and gone,” says Baer. “We fucked that one up.”
Meanwhile, there is the Baghdad Station, where the investment is supposed to matter. John Maguire, who worked with Baer in Beirut, recently came back from Baghdad, now the largest CIA clandestine operation since Saigon during the Vietnam War. “Few if any case officers know their way around the city, rarely venture out, certainly not alone, and most can get lost. ‘Too dangerous,’ they say. When they do go out,” Maguire tells me, “it’s with personal body guards, drivers, armored cars, automatic weapons, and a profile from a Mad Max movie.” So much for moving like fog. Instead, there is the iron fist, the Abu Ghraibs and the CIA “black sites,” the super-secret gulags, where the agency has resurrected its criminal habit of torturing “sources.” Torture, as Bob Baer will tell you, has never produced a useful piece of intelligence and never will. Torture does, however, produce a lot of pissed-off people who end up hating the United States when they might have been allies. In other words, a good set-up for more blowback.
One day last autumn, when I went to visit Baer in Silverton before the big snows hit and the roads would be closed for days, we walked in the mountains and talked about what a really effective CIA might have achieved. It might have found Bin Laden (Baer thinks he’s dead, his videos that pop up the work of an Al Qaeda master in PhotoShop). Might have gotten inside the Muslim Brotherhood that helped produce Bin Laden’s troops. Might have been honest about the mirage of Saddam’s WMDs. “The CIA supplied weapons to the mujahideen in Afghanistan for ten years and beat the Soviet army,” he said. “Yet the agency hadn’t secured one single source inside Afghanistan who could tell us about Al Qaeda.”
We talked about his latest book, “The Devil We Know,” an intelligence analysis of Iran that suggests everything in the popular discourse in the US about Iran is wrong. It’s the sort of intelligence that likely would have been ignored if published inside the agency. The US, offers Baer, should engage with Iran, a great power in the Middle East, the heir of the Persia of antiquity that is invested in a historical memory the American spy apparatus can’t be bothered to understand. The US should come to a détente with Iran’s rulers, recognizing them not as madmen intent on destruction but as players in the world of realpolitik – not so very different in their intent than the United States. Iran, says Baer, has abandoned its penchant for funding terrorism against the US. Altogether this is a big-hearted argument, almost heroic, given the carnage visited on the CIA by the mullahs during Baer’s years in Beirut, the friends killed by Iran, the chaos spread by Iran. The book in that sense is a peace offering in spite of the awful past – a recognition of historical memory and an attempt at an answer to it.
Almost nothing in what he suggests in the Iran book accords with the conventional wisdom in DC. Iran must submit, goes the wisdom, or else suffer our bombs. Iran, after all, is supposed to be the next big threat. Baer’s dissenting voice is small in the scrum of interests in Washington. That’s why he’s in Silverton. He suggests the CIA transfer its headquarters to the mountains, to live in the hard cold winter and get a grip on reality, lose some fat. I get the impression he no longer believes in US power as currently configured. Perhaps he has come full circle from traveling the world with his mom. He tells me he might run for county sheriff and that his first official act is that he will “no longer enforce federal laws.” He tells me, “We’re a country of isolationists. We don’t do empires. So we come home. Build the perfect electric car, give away solar panels, retool the assholes on Wall Street to build public transportation.” He’s got his new daughter Khyber to take care of, and his wife Dayna. He has a new pair of skis. As we walked into the mountains, snow started falling. The peaks would soon be covered, and the valley. Baer could go skiing.
CHRISTOPHER KETCHAM, a freelance writer in Brooklyn, NY, is writing a book about secessionist groups in the US. You can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org or see more of his work at christopherketcham.com.
excellent article explains the reality of the drug war and conflicts between intelligence gathering and law enforcement,,...http://www.counterpunch.org/2010/03/04/of-course-narcs-are-crooked/
We’ve all seen a television show or a movie about an undercover narcotics cop who become crooked. He loses the trust of his colleagues, then his family. Soon, the only contacts he has are with the world of drug dealers that he originally set out to destroy. Now picture this scenario of the criminal cop on a worldwide scale and condoned by various governments and their agencies, including that of the United States. Let’s go a step further and understand that not only are these governments condoning these rogue activities, they consider them valuable to their national security. So, they allow drug dealers to bring huge amounts of heroin and cocaine into the country while at the same time others on the government payroll are arresting drug dealers not favored by US intelligence.
The scenario described above is but one aspect of the so-called war on drugs waged by the United States government. The "war" as it is being fought is, like all wars, much different than originally advertised. Even if there were pure motives ascribed to this war at its inceptions, those motives have long since disintegrated into an abyss of duplicity, denial, and atrocity. Like its progeny the global war on terror, the US war on drugs is a war that its antagonists never want to end since its termination would mean an end to their profit and status. Indeed, an end to the war on drugs would mean an end to the very agencies designed to fight it and the billions of dollars those agencies take from the taxpayers every year. Also like the global war on terror, the war on drugs is against an enemy that does not exist in terms of sovereignty persons, but as a phenomenon impossible to defeat. Therefore, it is an endless pursuit. In addition, it is a pursuit where the individual actors are often on both sides of the battle: where a drug dealer is also an informer and where a terrorist is also a CIA plant. To top it all off, these two wars on phantasms are interlinked. From the poppy fields and heroin labs of Afghanistan and Pakistan to the coca fields and cocaine labs of Colombia (with many other places in between), the funding of terror and insurgent groups and the funding of forces fighting them is connected to the international drug trade.
The web of individuals, criminal groups, and other organizations involved in the international drug trade is multidimensional and complex. This is also the case with the individuals and agencies enlisted by the US government to fight that trade. The federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) are among those who have attempted to catalog the elements involved in the drug trade. Author Douglas Valentine (The Phoenix Program) is one of the few that have attempted to catalog and describe the web woven by the government agencies supposedly fighting that trade. In so doing, he has described a system riddled with corruption and criminality. Sometimes this is the work of individuals enlisted by the agencies; sometimes it is the result of interagency turf battles; and sometimes it is agency policy.
Valentine’s first book on the subject is titled The Strength of the Wolf: The Secret History of America’s War on Drugs. This book told the history of Henry Anslinger’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) in all of its corrupt detail and racist assumptions. The stories between the book’s covers have enough fodder for a dozen Hollywood movies or a multitude of crime novels. His latest on the subject, The Strength of the Pack: The People, Politics and Espionage Intrigues that Shaped the DEA, covers the period beginning with the dissolution of the FBN, the short tenure of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), and the creation and continued existence of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). It is a voluminous work with more characters than the proverbial Russian novel. Impeccably researched and documented, The Strength of the Pack details the cowboy attitudes of BNDD and DEA agents and the criminal acts with which they were often involved. It is the story of a bureaucracy constantly at odds with itself and with other agencies, especially the CIA. The conflict with the CIA was directly tied to that agency’s use of drug running enterprises in its counterintelligence endeavors. It is the author’s contention that this conflict was a product of the CIA’s pursuit of its anticommunist agenda no matter what the cost. This contention is supported by the facts presented. There are mafia drug dealers let go and murderers employed by the CIA left to continue their criminal pursuits–all because of the role they played in Washington’s war against the Soviet Union.
The US war on drugs begun by Richard Nixon preceded the war on terror by almost twenty years. The destruction of the Bill of Rights Americans currently accept as fact began then. No Knock warrantless searches, torture of suspects, and the assassination of foreign individuals became accepted practice under the DEA. Indeed, some of these became law. Like the war on terror, the war on drugs preys on the fear of the unknown. Likewise, it presents the use of force as the most effective means to fight the war, despite decades of evidence proving that this is not the case. Also, like the war on terror, the war on drugs has created a bureaucracy and a subsidiary industry in the private sector that exists only to perpetuate itself. This is arguably a primary reason why marijuana remains illegal in the United States–because too many people on the supposedly right side of the law make a living from its illegality.
Valentine seeks the truth in his books. In doing so, he uncovers a lot of ugliness regarding the men and women who say they are protecting us. For some readers, his revelations about the US-run assassination program in Vietnam called the Phoenix program or his detailing of the corruption and criminality of those hired by the US government to keep heroin and cocaine away from America’s youth might be too much. This in itself is reason enough to read his books. The facade of morality that the DEA hides behind should be torn away if this country is to ever have a sane and humane drug policy. Just as importantly, that facade needs to be destroyed if it is ever to have a sane and humane foreign policy.
As Valentine’s books make perfectly clear, there is more than a bit of venality behind almost every bureaucrat and political appointee presented to the populace in any given year. Donald Rumsfeld or Hilary Clinton, Robert McNamara or William Colby, the men and women that run the United States are, after all, human. Some would argue that they define humanity’s baser elements.
RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His first novel, Short Order Frame Up, is published by Mainstay Press. He can be reached at: email@example.com
Next time you see a junkie sprawled at the curb in the downtown of your nearest city, or read about someone who died of a heroin overdose, just imagine a big yellow sign posted next to him or her saying: “Your Federal Tax Dollars at Work.”
Kudos to the New York Times, and to reporters Dexter Filkins, Mark Mazzetti and James Risen, for their lead article today reporting that Ahmed Wali Karzai, brother of Afghanistan’s stunningly corrupt President Hamid Karzai, a leading drug lord in the world’s major opium-producing nation, has for eight years been on the CIA payroll.
Okay, the article was lacking much historical perspective (more on that later), and the dead hand of top editors was evident in the overly cautious tone (I loved the third paragraph, which stated that “The financial ties and close working relationship between the intelligence agency and Mr. Karzai raises significant questions about America’s war strategy, which is currently under review at the White House.” Well, duh! It should be raising questions about why we are even in Afghanistan, about who should be going to jail at the CIA, and about how can the government explain this to the over 1000 soldiers and Marines who have died supposedly helping to build a new Afghanistan). But that said, the newspaper that helped cheerlead us into the pointless and criminal Iraq invasion in 2003, and that prevented journalist Risen from running his exposé of the Bush/Cheney administration’s massive warrantless National Security Agency electronic spying operation until after the 2004 presidential election, this time gave a critically important story full play, and even, appropriately, included a teaser in the same front-page story about October being the most deadly month yet for the US in Afghanistan.
What the article didn’t mention at all is that there is a clear historical pattern here. During the Vietnam War, the CIA, and its Air America airline front-company, were neck deep in the Southeast Asian heroin trade. At the time, it was Southeast Asia, not Afghanistan, that was the leading producer and exporter of opium, mostly to the US, where there was a heroin epidemic.
A decade later, in the 1980s, during the Reagan administration, as the late investigative journalist Gary Webb so brilliantly documented first in a series titled “Dark Alliance” in the San Jose Mercury newspaper, and later in a book by that same name, the CIA was deeply involved in the development of and smuggling of cocaine into the US, which was soon engulfed in a crack cocaine epidemic—one that continues to destroy African American and other poor communities across the country. (The Times role here was sordid—it and other leading papers, including the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times—did despicable hit pieces on Webb shamelessly trashing his work and his career, and ultimately driving him to suicide, though his facts have held up. For the whole sordid tale, read Alex Cockburn’s and Jeffrey St. Clair’s Whiteout: the CIA, Drugs and the Press) In this case, Webb showed that the Agency was actually using the drugs as a way to fund arms, which it could use its own planes to ferry down to the Contra forces it was backing to subvert the Sandinista government in Nicaragua at a time Congress had barred the US from supporting the Contras.
And now we have Afghanistan, once a sleepy backwater of the world with little connection to drugs (the Taliban, before their overthrow by US forces in 20001, had, according to the UN, virtually eliminated opium production there), but now responsible for as much as 80 percent of the world’s opium production—this at a time that the US effectively finances and runs the place, with an occupying army that, together with Afghan government forces that it controls, outnumbers the Taliban 12-1 according to a recent AP story. (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jWM24PqWpJg-935bFXbYANhGJ_lQD9BJLDVO0).
The real story here is that where the US goes, the drug trade soon follows, and the leading role in developing and nurturing that trade appears to be played by the Central Intelligence Agency.
Your tax dollars at work.
The issue at this point should not be how many troops the US should add to its total in Afghanistan. It shouldn’t even be over whether the US should up the ante or scale back to a more limited goal of hunting terrorists. It should be about how quickly the US can extricate its forces from Afghanistan, how soon the Congress can start hearings into corruption and drug pushing by the CIA, and how soon the Attorney General’s office will impanel a grand jury to probe CIA drug dealing.
Americans, who for years have supported a stupid, blundering and ineffective “War on Drugs” in this country, and who mindlessly back “zero-tolerance” policies towards drugs in schools and on the job, should demand a “zero-tolerance” policy toward drugs and dealing with drug pushers in government and foreign policy, including the CIA.
For years we have been fed the story that the Taliban are being financed by their taxes on opium farmers. That may be partly true, but recently we’ve been learning that it’s not the real story. Taliban forces in Afghanistan, it turns out, have been heavily subsidized by protection money paid to them by civilian aid organizations, including even American government-funded aid programs, and even, reportedly, by the military forces of some of America’s NATO allies (there is currently a scandal in Italy concerning such payments by Italian forces). But beyond that, the opium industry, far from being controlled by the Taliban, has been, to a great extent, controlled by the very warlords with which the US has allied itself, and, as the Times now reports, by Ahmed Wali Karzai, the president’s own brother.
Karzai, we are also told by Filkins, Mazzetti and Risen, was a key player in producing hundreds of thousands of fraudulent ballots for his brother’s election theft earlier this year. Left unsaid is whether the CIA might have played a role in that scam too. In a country where finding printing presses is sure to be difficult, and where transporting bales of counterfeit ballots is risky, you have to wonder whether an agency like the CIA, which has ready access to printers and to helicopters, might have had a hand in keeping its assets in control in Kabul.
Sure that’s idle speculation on my part, but when you learn that America’s spook agency has been keeping not just Karzai, but lots of other unsavory Afghani warlords, on its payroll, such speculation is only logical.
The real attitude of the CIA here was best illustrated by an anonymous quote in the Filkins, Mazzetti and Risen piece, where a “former CIA officer with experience in Afghanistan,” explaining the agency’s backing of Karzai, said, “Virtually every significant Afghan figure has had brushes with the drug trade. If you are looking for Mother Teresa, she doesn’t live in Afghanistan.”
“The end justifies the means” is America’s foreign policy and military motto, clearly.
The Times article exposing the CIA link to Afghanistan’s drug-kingpin presidential brother should be the last straw for Americans. President Obama’s “necessary” war in Afghanistan is nothing but a sick joke.
The opium, and resulting heroin, that is flooding into Europe and America thanks to the CIA’s active support of the industry and its owners in Afghanistan are doing far more grave damage to our societies than any turbaned terrorists armed with suicide bomb vests could hope to inflict.
The Afghanistan War has to be ended now.
Let the prosecution of America’s government drug pushers begin.
A note about Sen. John Kerry: Kerry (D-MA), who went to Afghanistan to press, for the Obama administration, to get his "good friend" President Karzai to agree to a run-off election after Karzai’s earlier theft of the first round, has played a shameful role here. Once, back when he still had an ounce of the principle that he had back when he was a Vietnam vet speaking out against the Indochina War, Kerry held hearings on the CIA’s cocaine-for-arms operation in Central America. Now he’s hugging the CIA’s drug connections.
DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and now available in paperback). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org://www.counterpunch.org/2009/10/28/america-s-drug-crisis/
Excerpts from FBI files on Bill Janklow
“Max A. Gors, Chief Assistant Attorney General of South Dakota (retired Circuit Judge) advised he has been well acquainted with Mr. Janklow for the past four years. He stated Mr. Janklow is an outstanding attorney and legal expert on Indian jurisdictional matters. Mr. Gors advised Mr. Janklow’s morals, character and associates are above reproach. He stated Mr. Janklow is a loyal American whom he would recommend highly for a position of trust and confidence with the government.”
Excerpts from FBI Files on Bill Janklow
March 10, 1975, summary report on background investigation:“The files of the South Dakota Department of Public Safety, Pierre, South Dakota,indicated that between June 25, 1968, and March 21, 1973, (Janklow) was charged
with speeding on 10 occasions, for which he was fined. The amount of the fines is not indicated. In one instance, Mr. Janklow was placed on a one-year driving probation.”
About the FBI
The nearly 36,000 FBI agents and professional staff nationwide investigate criminal activity related to terrorism, spying, cyberspace, public corruption, civil rights violations, organized crime, white collar crime — largely fraud — and violence and major thefts. The results of criminal investigations are presented to the appropriate U.S. Attorney or the Department of Justice, according to the FBI website.Limited information from FBI central records also can be requested by other federal agencies, the administration, congressional committees, the federal judiciary, and some foreign police and intelligence agencies. Identification and criminal history information can legally be disclosed to federal, state and local law enforcement and criminal justice agencies.Private citizens can request any criminal history the FBI has compiled on them.The FBI’s intelligence activities are overseen by the Director of National Intelligence.
Bill Janklow arguably is the most influential and important politician in South Dakota history, but you don’t get a true sense of that by looking at his FBI file.
Over 34 years, the FBI created 10 files on the former attorney general, governor and congressman, ranging from an investigation of a rape allegation against him in 1967 to an incident in 2001 when a prison inmate sent him and three other officials envelopes containing a household cleaner purported to be anthrax.
But instead of offering deep insight into the life, times and character of one of South Dakota’s most fascinating and consequential leaders, the files reveal more about the FBI’s penchant for indiscriminately compiling information, much of it hearsay, without making any effort to verify it, analyze it or draw conclusions from it.
“There is just not enough there, and it is not definitive,” Matt Cecil, an associate professor of journalism and mass communication at South Dakota State University said of Janklow’s file.
Cecil has studied the relationship between journalists and the FBI in the era of its iconic leader, J. Edgar Hoover. Cecil is teaching a graduate level class this summer in which the Janklow files are a major resource.
“It’s interesting. It’s fun to read and to look at. But if you’re looking for the answer to some big question, it’s not there,” Cecil said of the FBI records on Janklow.
Cecil said he thinks he might be the first person to peruse Janklow’s files, and he added that he also has requested any information the FBI compiled on former Sen. Jim Abdnor, who died in May. Like Janklow, Abdnor was a dominant political figure in South Dakota.
“Somebody in South Dakota should be collecting these things,” Cecil said of the files.
The Argus Leader submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for Janklow’s files about the same time Cecil did in an effort to gain historical perspective on Janklow, a forceful but controversial figure whose vision for South Dakota in many ways shaped the contemporary state.
People can request and receive FBI files of people who have died. Janklow died in January.
Cecil’s interest in the FBI, its procedures and files goes back to his master’s degree thesis on a 1939 robbery of an Elkton bank.
“I got 5,000 pages of stuff from the FBI on that one bank robbery,” he said. Since then, “it sounds ghoulish, but every time someone passes, if it is a person of significance who might likely have been of interest to the FBI, I order their files.”
Ford administration used files in 1975
While material related to Janklow from the late 1970s to 2001 in great measure recounts FBI efforts to identify phone and letter threats against him when he was governor, the largest collection of documents, by far, in the files were used to write a report to the White House in 1975, when Janklow was South Dakota’s attorney general.
Janklow would have known about this, since the FBI investigated him at the administration’s request when President Ford wanted to nominate Janklow as a director of the National Legal Services Corp. Typically, such background checks start with the candidate, according to William Carter, an FBI spokesman in Washington.
“Usually the candidate fills out a form,” Carter said. “Based on the information provided, a background investigation is conducted to verify the information.”
Agents from the Washington, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Baltimore, Boston, Omaha, Denver, San Francisco, Albuquerque, N.M., and Chicago offices assisted in the 1970s Janklow inquiry.
In contrast to its criminal investigations, the FBI does not draw conclusions from background checks, Carter said.
“We gather facts and present those to the White House, which can make the determination of the suitability of the person.”
Janklow papers offer insight
The real “gold mine” of documents for attempting to understand Janklow, his actions and legacy might be the collection which only recently became available for public review. Janklow papers from his four terms as governor from 1979-87 and 1995-2003 were donated to the University of South Dakota last year and became accessible July 1.
They comprise 355 boxes of documents. In addition, 75 boxes of political papers and more than 1,000 media items, such as video cassettes, still are being curated and eventually will be available to the public.
“It’s a very extensive collection,” said Dan Daily, interim dean of libraries at USD. “The records are vital to really looking at the history of South Dakota in the last quarter of the 20th century. In terms of complexity and political richness, they are at the top of the scale.”
Janklow’s son, Russell Janklow, said: “My dad was very proud of his accomplishments” but viewed his legacy within the context of his administrative team. You’re only as good as the moving parts. My dad’s legacy was the legacy of his administration, bright, hard-working people who cared a lot about South Dakota."
Where Cecil said the FBI files lack “life,” Daily promises that Janklow’s papers definitely promote an understanding of his leadership and how it evolved.
“Like any human being, he was complex,” Daily said. “If you look at how his leadership developed over 25 years, it developed and changed, and the papers will bear that out.”
In contrast, about all that can be inferred from the FBI files is Janklow matured into a well-regarded lawyer with a fiery personality some considered brash after he left the Marine Corps and enrolled at the University of South Dakota. One thing that never changed was his penchant for aggressive, illegal driving. The FBI noted as early as 1975 that Janklow was receiving numerous traffic citations, and it was a stop-sign violation that led to the death of another motorist that triggered Janklow’s political downfall in 2003.
Documenting the early years
The interviews and document searches from the 1975 background check recount the early “Wild Bill” phase of Janklow’s life and were compiled in a report to the Ford administration made by the FBI’s Minneapolis office. They note two juvenile delinquency court appearances in Flandreau, one for reckless driving and one for assault from the mid-1950s. The assault complaint was dropped when Janklow entered the Marines. The files reference the incident on several occasions. But apparently, no FBI agent ever went beyond hearsay to interview the victim or determine the nature of the assault.
That includes an account from an lawyer who had once worked for Janklow at Rosebud who said, “he knows there had been a complaint and charge of rape against Janklow, while Bill was a juvenile at Flandreau, S.D. He said that charge was dropped,” according to the FBI report.
This is the sort of thing the FBI field offices routinely gathered, circulated to each other through mail and in telex messages sent through phone lines with teleprinters and moved on up the chain of command without comment. The document streams from that era have been characterized as the equivalent of contemporary emails.
The ability to verify anecdotal accounts and pursue them to their source is greater now than when the Janklow inquiry was conducted. “Methods have changed,” Carter said. “Access to information is so much easier with computers and such.”
Some discipline issues in Marines
Janklow served in the Marines from 1956-59 and was stationed in Okinawa for a time. He was honorably released from active duty as a private first class in 1959 and served in the Marine Reserve until 1962, when he was honorably discharged.
“No awards or decorations were noted” from his time in Okinawa, according to an FBI report. “His character and efficiency ratings ranged from fair to outstanding.”
On four occasions, though, the FBI report on Janklow’s military service points out that he ran afoul of Marine discipline. He received nonjudicial punishment twice for failing to be on duty at the prescribed time and once for making false statements about why he was not in proper uniform.He also received a summary court martial, the lowest level of military justice, and was sentenced to forfeit $50 pay and perform hard labor for 15 days. The offense was counterfeiting a charge sheet, a document specifiying violations of duty.
The FBI also tracked down a former employer, a Denver trucking company, that fired Janklow in 1961.
High regard after return to S.D.
Anecdotes about Janklow changed after the early 1960s. The FBI found several former neighbors who recalled incidents where Janklow’s St. Bernard dog allegedly got into flower gardens and damaged a rental house in Vermillion. But most people FBI agents talked with from the time Janklow was in college and law school spoke highly of him.
John Scarlett, who had been dean of the law school when Janklow attended USD, and who was heading the Drake University law school when he was interviewed by an FBI agent from Omaha in 1975, told him Janklow “was a very intelligent, hard working individual whose morals, character, reputation were above reproach, and who was well liked by all his fellow peers. Further advised that applicant was a very dynamic, idealistic individual who would do the U.S. government a great service and that he would highly recommend him for same.”
A former employee of South Dakota Legal Services at Rosebud where Janklow was director from 1966-72 characterized Janklow to an FBI agent from the Denver office as “a most competent attorney, a good manager of people, and an attorney with a competence capable of handling both clients and court cases. Janklow further described as having a sincere commitment to duty.”
South Dakota’s senators at the time, Jim Abourezk, and George McGovern, also were interviewed. Abourezk noted that he and Janklow were law school classmates, and Abourezk “recommends him for a position of trust and responsibility with the Government,” according to the FBI.
McGovern said he had no personal knowledge of Janklow and could not comment on him.
Barred from law practice in Rosebud
FBI offices across the country did much of the legwork in the 1975 inquiry for the Ford administration and submitted findings to the Minneapolis office. The report noted that five grievance complaints had been filed against Janklow with the State Bar of South Dakota, but they were resolved before being submitted to the bar grievance committee. It also pointed out that Janklow had been prohibited from practicing law at Rosebud by Rosebud Sioux Tribal Judge Mario Gonzalez, following an allegation Janklow had raped a 15-year-old girl.
In the 1980s, Janklow filed two libel lawsuits related to the sexual-assault allegation. He sued Peter Matthiessen, author of the book “In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,” and Viking Press for statements made in the book. He also sued Newsweek magazine, which reported on the claim. Both lawsuits were dismissed, with courts claiming the First Amendment shielded the writers.
The rape allegation in the FBI report concerned Sen. Alan Cranston, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Labor and Public Welfare Committee, to the point that asked for additonal information about the investigation into the incident. Cranston also wanted more information about allegations Janklow was arrested on drunken driving charges on the Crow Creek reservation in 1973 and was not wearing pants at the time.
Cranston also wanted to know about claims that Janklow did not have a contract to represent the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and that he rode a motorcycle through a residential area of the Rosebud reservation while shooting dogs.
After a meeting with an FBI special agent June 9, 1975, a bureau memorandum notes that Cranston was convinced the claims were baseless.
Janklow was confirmed July 9, 1975, by the Senate for a two-year term as a National Legal Services Corp. director.
Sharp response to tribal officials
Janklow himself, in a letter to the grievance committee of the Sate Bar of South Dakota in November 1974, had responded to the allegations, and the letter became part of his FBI file.
“I am sick and tired of ‘crap’ like this coming from (Rosebud Tribal Chairman Bob) Burnette and (Crow Creek Sioux Tribe Police Officer Robert) Philbrick, and any answer I give to such charges is insufficient when they do things such as this, considering all the newspapers love to run the original story,” Janklow wrote of the nude drunk driving story.
Countering the claim, Buffalo County Sheriff Francis Healey told the FBI he learned of Janklow’s arrest at Fort Thompson and arrived “within the hour” to take custody of him. Healey said he found Janklow sober and clothed.
With regard to the sexual assault allegation, Janklow told the grievance committee: “Thanks to (redacted) and Bob Burnette, I will be living with and explaining this matter to South Dakotans for the rest of my life.”
Janklow’s extensive record of driving infractions was part of the 1975 background check, too. The FBI noteed that Janklow had 10 speeding citations from 1968 to 1973. “In one instance, Mr. Janklow was placed on one-year driving probation,” the FBI report noted.
Changes at the FBI after Hoover
In 1967, when the FBI first looked at the rape claim on the reservation, Hoover still ran the bureau. When the agency did the background check on Janklow in 1975, it was only three years after Hoover had left following 44 years as director, and his influence on the culture of the FBI remained profound.
The relentless stacking of information as if the weight of it was somehow justification for its existence “goes back to Hoover and his genius for bureaucracy,” SDSU’s Cecil said. The reluctance of agents to do anything more with information than compile it also was tied to Hoover. The FBI when he ran it “was a feudal kingdom, and Hoover was the Sun King,” Cecil said. “Everything flowed up to him.”
As Hoover’s influence waned, the FBI changed. The bureau now does a much better job of analyzing information instead of just taking it in and passing it on, Cecil said. “Today what it does it does really well,” he says of the FBI.
'Bill was cognizant of his uniqueness'
From 1981 to 1987, FBI files deal with letter threats Janklow received as governor. Then, in 1999 and 2000, a bureau narrative recounts a phone tap placed on the governor’s line after he received threatening phone calls. The final file, from 2001, recounts the incident of the household cleaner purported to be anthrax sent from the South Dakota State Penitentiary. An inmate confessed to mailing the envelopes.
The FBI did not investigate the last major event in Janklow’s public life, the fatal auto accident in 2003 in which Janklow’s vehicle struck and killed a motorcyclist near Flandreau. Janklow was convicted of second-degree manslaughter.
Files probably weren't influential
If the later FBI files were mostly mundane accounts of law enforcement happenings, the events the FBI in 1975 sought to document from Janklow’s youth and early professional career indeed became part of a narrative that endured the remainder of his life.
Dave Knudson, the former South Dakota Senate Majority Leader who served as Janklow’s chief of staff in 1995 and 1999, said he thinks this early reputation had no effect on Janklow’s later life.
“That was never anything I felt was lurking in the background of any decision Bill made or the way he approached life,” Knudson said.
According to Daily, the USD library dean, Janklow wanted his archives at the university to be readily available, and Knudson said that attitude stemmed from Janklow’s view of public service.
“I think Bill was cognizant of his uniqueness,” Knudson said. “At the start of his third term, when I was chief of staff, on his first day in office he became the longest-serving governor in South Dakota. I think he was always cognizant of his role in South Dakota history. But I can’t say I was aware of any special recordkeeping that went on” to document that role.
Russell Janklow described his father as “kind of a student of history himself” who had a great appreciation for the lessons it can teach. Similar to Knudson‘s assessment, Russell Janklow said his father felt his time heading South Dakota was out of the ordinary.
He viewed the state as “a great microcosm, almost a laboratory to do a lot of these different things you couldn’t do in Chicago or Los Angeles, because functionally government didn’t work, the bureaucracy wouldn’t allow it.”
Like Daily, Russell Janklow said his father wanted his records accessible.
“He was a firm believer there are certain things a government does that need to be private, but we’re supposed to be a transparent government. There are certain things you just can’t make public. But what you can, you should,” he said.
Complex history in Indian Country
Like Cecil, Daily and Knudson, Don Dahlin, emeritus professor of political science at USD, considers it is important for South Dakota that a historical perspective of Janklow emerges.
Dahlin is dismayed there is nothing in the FBI files that refers to the 1973 Wounded Knee Occupation, when Janklow was South Dakota attorney general. Dahlin said he hopes Janklow’s own archives cover that era as well as his time working as a lawyer at Rosebud.
“There is some criticism of him being anti-Indian,” Dahlin said.
“But apparently he brought some suits that were very powerfully in the interests of the tribes. I’d be fascinated to learn more about that chapter of his life.”
Dahlin and Cecil both point out that the FBI files and the documents surrounding Janklow’s public service aren’t going anywhere. It also still is possible to talk with many of Janklow’s associates.
“Bill Janklow was 72 when he died. A lot of people with whom he worked closely are at least that old,” Dahlin said.
From his own observation, Dahlin saw Janklow as “a man with uncommon gusto at the beginning, and it seemed to me he finished with uncommon gusto. He was willing to go and take bold policy stances. It would be fascinating to see how that does play out in the papers.”
Knudson suggests a series of documents provide useful insight into Janklow beyond the FBI’s scattershot collection of records, anecdotes and hearsay. These are Janklow’s addresses to the Legislature as governor.
“You get a pretty good flavor going through those,” he said.
“I had occasion to reread the 1995 things last summer. It was interesting reading, and vintage Janklow. You read those words, and you can hear him say them.”
I found a interesting take on the CIA drug story coming from someone who was present in the Afghan capital-- another diplomat speaks out--this one Russian:I looked into the board of directors of Veterans Today and was surprised to find some interesting members, like the former head of Pakistan's ISI. this is a great opportunity to hear their side of the story: "Russia has opened up air corridor, has written off $12bil of Afghan debt and did provide all imaginable actionable intelligence on terrorists and druglords – only to watch in frustration the action of NATO, corruption & drug expansion in Afghanistan."
By Gordon Duff Senior Editor
Veterans Today (http://www.veteranstoday.com) is pleased to announce the appointment of Lt. General Hamid Gul, former head of Pakistan’s ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), to its Editorial Board of Directors, joining, among others, Jeff Gates, Dr. Alan Sabrosky, Col. Jim Hanke, Gordon Duff, Khalil Nouri and Col. Eugene Khrushchev.
Every fuel truck that heads into Afghanistan, and hundreds do each week, the United States pays the Taliban $3000 to let it through unharmed. Dozens of other American schemes not only arm the Taliban but American allies like Israel see to it they have state of the art encrypted communications, keeping them one step ahead of Americas efforts to control Afghanistan.
There is business to be done in Afghanistan, drugs, weapons and billions in “development projects” that suck in money but never seem to materialize.
No one speaks of the $65 billion in heroin Afghanistan, formerly drug free under the Taliban, is now exporting to the world or the 10% of Afghanis now dying a slow death as addicts.
General Hamid Gul had it right all along. With the vast majorityof Americans either openly opposed to the war in Afghanistan or utterly oblivious to it, a majority tired of paying for the war, tired of hearing war news, tired of hearing about wounded soldiers, homeless veterans, a vast majority more frightened of losing their homes, their jobs, Gul predicted it all years ago.
http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/08/04/general-hamid-gul-former-head-of-pakistans-isi-joins-veterans-today/click the link to read the full article.....))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))
The Board is responsible for all content on VT and participates in all major decisions regarding content, columnists, and editorial direction for VT
If an occupation of a foreign land has patently failed to make ‘residual’ sense even for its cheerleaders, what would be a corrective action? To call it quits, and get the guys & gals back home?
November 12th, 2012 | Posted in Editor,WarZone | Read More »
Welcome to the latest spin of the Al-Qaeda psychological operation against the Syrian government, backed up by the Western advisers – the nefarious ‘barrel bombs’ bogey!
October 19th, 2012 | Posted in Editor,WarZone | Read More »
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September 19th, 2012 | Posted in Editor,WarZone | Read More »
“Anomalous surge in assassinations of foreign friends, dressed in American BDU, by hostile hosts, clad in Afghan uniform, has catapulted an obscure milspeak green-on-blue, into the limelight of public attention.”
August 31st, 2012 | Posted in Editor,WarZone | Read More »
- Consecutive appointments of straight shooting generals in charge of US Embassy & Command HQ in Kabul was a stroke of genius
August 15th, 2012 | Posted in Editor,World | Read More »
Under such penalizing conditions, the life & death issue of airborne navigating is aircraft reliability, not the fancy Caddy ergonomics or the wizardry of weaponry onboard – and the predominant tech factor in favor of Russian helicopters.
July 24th, 2012 | Posted in Editor,Military | Read More »
Every country has its own peculiarities, but in international affairs, Pakistan stands out as the one and only state that, despite the perennial turmoil in internal affairs and lack of powerful Beltway lobby, has excelled splendidly in exploiting US ‘smart power’ ambitions .
When the US betrayed their staunchest ally, the Shah of Iran, General Zia ul-Haq – unlike Noriega, Hussein, Qaddafi, and Mubarak et al – was the first to conclude that, to count on succor from the White House when push comes to shove, would be a suicidal folly.
July 18th, 2012 | Posted in World | Read More »
The longest standoff between Washington & Islamabad is the latest display of US foreign policy modus operandi at its best & worst.
July 7th, 2012 | Posted in Asia,World | Read More »
The siege mentality that successive teams of US policy makers have finessed to perfection in the last decade in Pakistan and Afghanistan was inspired by the famous Bush slogan ‘who is not with us, is against us’.
June 29th, 2012 | Posted in Editor,WarZone | Read More »
First, the Pentagon infiltrated the US mainstream media on the sly by a constellation of retired military stars to massage the major message on Operation Indefinite Liberty, OIL aka GWAT, globally.
Later, Fort Fumble reversed its spinmeister tactics and, in overt civ/mil joint venture, it imbedded tightly vetted quill-drivers into US Marines & Army units in Afghanistan to promote Obama’s double-down surge locally.
June 5th, 2012 | Posted in Editor,WarZone | Read More »
Russian Aurora has discharged a preemptive salvo against the Atlantic freedom vultures in America, which have camped out at sweet home Chicago.
No, it wasn’t another Bolshevik mutiny at the legendary cruiser in St Petersburg; it was an audacious Russian think tank, Institute for Foreign Policy Research & Initiatives, http://www.invissin.ru that boarded ritzy Marriott Aurora in Moscow to test fire a new revolutionary manifesto – International Conference “NATO: myths and reality lessons for Russia and the world”.
May 20th, 2012 | Posted in Editor,WarZone | Read More »
Washington’s policy of “managed chaos” has backfired in Afghanistan and Pakistan. VT Editor, Colonel Eugene Khrushchev says the US excelled at chaos building but has yet to succeed at managing it.
February 3rd, 2012 | Posted in Editor,WarZone | Read More »
“It took Obama two years to find his own birth certificate, how long will it take to find Usama bin Laden’s death certificiate?”
October 13th, 2011 | Posted in Editor,Politics | Read More »
SMART POWER SOPHISTRY By Colonel Eugene Khrushchev STAFF WRITER/Editor US foreign policy mavens have plucked from obscurity and put a new spin on Smart Power concept as the cornerstone of the US National Security Strategy. In theory and on paper, this paradigm shift is picture-perfect. In practice, if it takes seeing to believing, don’t be [...]
February 20th, 2011 | Posted in WarZone | Read More »
THE LORD OF THE DRUGS By Colonel Eugene Khrushchev (ret) STAFF WRITER/Editor With great gusto Karzai used to ‘play US like a fiddle’. Unabashed, he’ll continue to treat Uncle Sam as a sugar daddy – until the White House has the guts to face this worst kept secret fairly & squarely. US Administration should face [...]
November 6th, 2010 | Posted in AfPak,WarZone | Read More »
UNAMA HR devil’s advocate: part two. Afghan WMD collateral damage By Col. Eugene Khrushchev (ret.) STAFF WRITER/Editor The Methodology section offers contradicting disclaimers that effectively negate the veracity of the 2010 mid-year report: • “The non-combatant status of the reported victims…cannot be conclusively established or is disputed” • “UNAMA HR …does not presume fighting-age males [...]
August 29th, 2010 | Posted in AfPak,WarZone | Read More »
By Col. Eugene Khrushchev (ret.) STAFF WRITER/Editor UNAMA HR’s 2010 mid-year Report, “Protection of civilians in armed conflict” is an important milestone of the UN’s lofty endeavor in Afghanistan. Also, it’s deeply disturbing – due to what is claims, and what it doesn’t. Devil’s advocate review questions UNAMA HR Report’s vision & veracity and offers [...]
August 25th, 2010 | Posted in AfPak,WarZone | Read More »
THE AFTERMATH OF AFGHANIFEST By Colonel Eugene Khrushchev STAFF WRITER/Editor The latest international conference in Kabul didn’t have any suspense or surprise, but it came up with different outcomes for different stakeholders in Afghanistan. The cold snow job in the simmering summer For the international community represented by the UN as a whole, and by [...]
July 27th, 2010 | Posted in AfPak,WarZone | Read More »
AFGHAN’S DEEP DRUG DIVIDE Colonel Eugene Khrushchev STAFF WRITER/Editor “Since Afghan drug lords’ special rep Richard Holbrooke, in cahoots with CIA and Karzai Bros Drug Inc., hijacked US Afghan policy, DEA & SOF counternarcotics strategy has gone into a tailspin and the war on drugs has been jettisoned in favor of micro-soft policy on dope. [...]
June 16th, 2010 | Posted in AfPak,WarZone | Read More »
By Colonel Eugene Khrushchev, STAFF WRITER/Editor From plight to blight The US has launched a surreptitious germ warfare against the hard-working drug-farmers – or so claimed the narco-jihadist propaganda when a “mysterious” blight had suddenly struck the “good” part of the opium poppy fields on the eve of the harvest. A shot in the foot [...]
May 27th, 2010 | Posted in AfPak,WarZone | Read More »
AFGHANISTAN: US DRUG POLICY, TOTAL CORRUPTION OR UTTER INSANITY? By Colonel Eugene Khrushchev (ret) STAFF WRITER/Editor The new American drug policy is easy to understand. America is telling the world it can no longer eradicate opium/heroin production because “poor farmers” are going to suffer. In truth, the poppy fields America now protects are run [...]
May 15th, 2010 | Posted in AfPak,WarZone | Read More »
NATO OPIUM “ERADICATION” GUARANTEES RECORD HEROIN PRODUCTION IN AFGHANISTAN AMERICA’S “FALSE FLAG” WAR ON DRUGS By Col Khrushchev (ret) STAFF WRITER/Editor Monterey & Marja Right after 4/20 celebration of Weed Day in California, the duo of Supernova Afghan experts from Monterey published their mind-boggling trip on Marja opium. What could have been a funny frolic for [...]
April 27th, 2010 | Posted in AfPak,WarZone | Read More »
The duplicity of dovish drug détente By Col. Khrushchev (ret) STAFF WRITER/Editor Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, who is in charge of strategic communication & info ops in Afghanistan, has valiantly tried to present the past of the Operation Moshtarak as another Iwo Jima or Stalingrad battle – with a little help from designated imbeds. Under [...]
April 22nd, 2010 | Posted in AfPak,WarZone | Read More »
Is that what the US military is for – to be duped into dope syringe surge? By Colonel Evgeny Khrushchev (ret) STAFF WRITER/Editor (Moscow) Soviet and Russian Army The CIA Red Cell insinuation campaign, led by its agents of influence and media imbeds to spin a Black Widow angle, is not by a long shot a [...]
April 15th, 2010 | Posted in AfPak,WarZone | Read More »
THE SPECIAL FORCES OPINION By Colonel Evgeny (Gene) Khrushchev STAFF WRITER/Editor Army of the Soviet Union/Russian Army (ret) The latest spike of the terrorist attacks against Russia by doped explosive zombies, DEZ, has unmasked the true nature of the Western attitude vis-à-vis Russia. The knee-jerk reaction from neocons and militant liberals was fast & furious [...]
“Can Anyone Pacify the World’s Number One Narco-State? The Opium Wars in Afghanistan,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, 14-4-10, April 5, 2010 http://japanfocus.org/-Alfred_W_-McCoy/3339
Former Canadian Diplomat and UC Berkley Professor Peter Dale Scott, “Can the US Triumph in the Drug-Addicted War in Afghanistan? Opium, the CIA and the Karzai Administration” The Asia-Pacific Journal, 14-5-10, April 5, 2010. http://japanfocus.org/-Peter_Dale-Scott/3340
see a complete archive of PDS Works is here: http://www.peterdalescott.net/q.html
Contact PDS at:
December 3, 2012*********
Friday, 14. December 2012 by Sibel Edmondshttp://www.boilingfrogspost.com/about-us/about-sibel-edmonds/
In what the New York Times declared as a “dark day for the rule of law” on December 11, 2012, HSBC, the world’s second largest bank, failed to be indicted for extensive criminal activities in laundering money to and from regimes under sanctions, Mexican drug cartels, and terrorist organizations (including al-Qaeda). While admitting culpability, and with guilt assured, state and federal authorities in the United States decided not to indict the bank “over concerns that criminal charges could jeopardize one of the world’s largest banks and ultimately destabilize the global financial system.” Instead, HSBC agreed to pay a $1.92 billion settlement.
The fear was that an indictment would be a “death sentence” for HSBC. The U.S. Justice Department, which was prosecuting the case, was told by the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve that taking such an “aggressive stance” against HSBC could have negative effects upon the economy. Instead, the bank was to forfeit $1.2 billion and pay $700 million in fines on top of that for violating the Bank Secrecy Act and the Trading with the Enemy Act. In a statement, HSBC’s CEO stated, “We accept responsibility for our past mistakes… We are committed to protecting the integrity of the global financial system. To this end, we will continue to work closely with governments and regulators around the world.” With more than $7 billion in Mexican drug cartel money laundered through HSBC alone, the fine amounts to a slap on the wrist, no more than a cost-benefit analysis of doing business: if the ‘cost’ of laundering billions in drug money is less than the ‘benefit,’ the policy will continue.
As part of the settlement, not one banker at HSBC was to be charged in the case. The New York Times acknowledged that, “the government has bought into the notion that too big to fail is too big to jail.” HSBC joins a list of some of the world’s other largest banks in paying fines for criminal activities, including Credit Suisse, Lloyds, ABN Amro and ING, among others. The U.S. Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer referred to the settlement as an example of HSBC “being held accountable for stunning failures of oversight.” Lanny Breuer, who heads the Justice Department’s criminal division, which was responsible for prosecuting the case against HSBC, was previously a partner at a law firm (along with the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder) where they represented a number of major banks and other conglomerates in cases dealing with foreclosure fraud. While Breuer and Holder were partners at Covington & Burling, the firm represented notable clients such as Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo, among others. It seems that at the Justice Department, they continue to have the same job: protecting the major banks from being persecuted for criminal behavior.
With a great deal of focus on the $1.9 billion in fines being paid out by HSBC, little mention was made of the fact that HSBC had roughly $2.5 trillion in assets, and earned $22 billion in profits in 2011. But not to worry, HSBC’s executive said that they “accept responsibility for our past mistakes,” and added: “We have said we are profoundly sorry for them, and we do so again.” So not only did the executives of the world’s second largest bank apologize for laundering billions in drug money (along with other crimes), but they apologized… again. Thus, they pay a comparably small fine and face no criminal charges. I wonder if a crack dealer from a ghetto in the United States could avoid criminal prosecution if he were to apologize not once, but twice. Actually, we don’t have to wonder. In May of 2012, as HSBC executives were testifying before the U.S. Senate in Washington D.C., admitting their role in drug money laundering, a poor black man was convicted of peddling 5.5 grams of crack cocaine just across the river from the U.S. Capitol building, and he was given 10 years in prison.
Back in August the bank stated that they had put aside $700 million to pay fines for illegal activities, which conveniently was the exact amount they were fined by the U.S. Justice Department (not including the forfeiture of profits). Lanny Breuer declared the settlement to be “a very just, very real and very powerful result.” Indeed, one could agree that the results are “powerful” and “very real,” in that they provide a legal state-sanctioned decision that big banks will not be persecuted for their vast criminal activities, precisely because they are big banks. The “very real” result of this is that we can guarantee that such criminal behaviour will continue, since the banks will continue to be protected by the state. With news of the settlement, HSBC’s market share price rose by 2.8%, a clear sign that “financial markets” also reward criminal behaviour and the “pervasively polluted” culture at HSBC (in the words of the U.S. Senate report).
Jack Blum, a Washington attorney and former special counsel for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who specializes in money laundering and financial crimes stated that, “If these people aren’t prosecuted, who will be?” He further asked: “What do you have to do to be prosecuted? They have crossed every bright line in bank compliance. When is there an offense that’s bad enough for a big bank to be prosecuted?” But the Justice Department’s Lanny Breuer explained that his department had to consider “the collateral consequences” of prosecutions: “If you prosecute one of the largest banks in the world, do you risk that people will lose their jobs, other financial institutions and other parties will leave the bank, and there will be some kind of event in the world economy?”
In other words, the U.S. Justice Department decided that big banks are above the law, because if they weren’t, there would be severe consequences for the financial system. And this is not just good news for HSBC, the “favourite” bank of Mexican drug cartels (according to Bloomberg), but it’s good news for all banks. After all, HSBC is not the only bank engaged in laundering drug money and other illegal activities. Back in 2010, Wachovia (now part of Wells Fargo) paid roughly $160 million in fines for laundering some $378.4 billion in drug money. Drug money has also been found to be laundered through other major financial institutions, including Bank of America, Banco Santander, Citigroup, and the banking branch of American Express. Nearly all of the world’s largest banks have been or are currently being investigated for other crimes, including rigging interest rates (in what’s known as the Libor scandal), and other forms of fraud. Among the banks being investigated for criminal activity by U.S. prosecutors are Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Royal Bank of Scotland, UBS, Bank of America, Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi, Credit Suisse, Lloyds, Rabobank, Royal Bank of Canada, and Société Générale, among others. Regulators and investigators of the Libor scandal – “the biggest financial scandal ever” – report that the world’s largest banks engage in “organized fraud” and function like a “cartel” or “mafia.”
The pervasive criminality of this “international cartel” is so consistent that one commentator with the Guardian has referred to global banks as “the financial services wing of the drug cartels.” But indeed, where could be a better place for drug cartels to deposit their profits than with a financial cartel? And why would banks give up their pivotal role in the global drug trade? While the pharmaceutical drug industry records annual revenues in the hundreds of billions of dollars (which is nothing to ignore), the global trade in illicit drugs, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, amounted to roughly 2.3-5.5% of global GDP, around $2.1 trillion (U.S.) in 2009. That same year, the same United Nations office reported that billions of dollars in drug money saved the major global banks during the financial crisis, as “the only liquid investment capital” pouring into banks. Roughly $325 billion in drug money was absorbed by the financial system in 2009. It is in the interest of banks to continue profiting off of the global drug trade, and now they have been given a full green light by the Obama administration to continue.
Welcome to the world of financial criminality, the “international cartel” of drug money banks and their political protectors. These banks not only launder billions in drug money, finance terrorists and commit massive fraud, but they create massive financial and economic crises, and then our governments give them trillions of dollars in bailouts, again rewarding them for creating crises and committing criminal acts. On top of that, we, the people, are handed the bill for the bailouts and have to pay for them through reduced standards of living by being punished into poverty through ‘austerity measures’ and have our labour, resources, and societies exploited through ‘structural reform’ policies. These criminal banks dominate the global economy, and dictate policies to national political oligarchies. Their greed, power, and parasitic nature knows no bounds.
The fact that the Justice Department refused to prosecute HSBC because of the effects it could have on the financial system should be a clear sign that the financial system does not function for the benefit of people and society as a whole, and thus, that it needs to be dramatically changed, cartels need to be destroyed, banks broken up, criminal behavior punished (not rewarded), and that people should dictate the policies of society, not a small network of international criminal cartel banks.
But then, that would be rational, so naturally it’s not even up for discussion.
ANALYSIS: THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE RESPONSE TO THE WEBB ALLEGATIONS
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, available exclusively at the COPvCIA STORE.
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&rdquo were the Contras’ military chief Enrique Bermudez, and the Contra political leaders Adolfo Calero (who Webb called a “CIA operative&rdquo 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&rdquo. 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 ). 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. .
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.
On March 16, 1998, in response to Webb's allegations, the CIA Inspector-General admitted that in early 1982 the CIA secured permission from Attorney General William French Smith not to report on the drug activities of CIA agents, assets and contract employees. This agreement was not fully rescinded until 1995, when Webb began his investigations. Here is the true CIA responsibility for our drug plague: not by giving an 'order', but by condoning the traffic, protecting it, obstructing the efforts of those who tried to combat it and helping to force honest journalists like Webb who reported it out of jobs.
From this 1982 agreement apparently flowed even more bizarre drug aspects of Iran-Contra: special freedom of movement for indicted drug traffickers into and out of the United States, sometimes without having to clear Customs; similar privileges for their trafficking air planes; federal intervention to stop domestic drug cases, or seal or even destroy evidence; a government-protected air base for traffickers in El Salvador (Ilopango) that a DEA agent could not visit; and even CIA-DEA plotting to smuggle wanted or convicted drug traffickers away from Central American law enforcement.
None of these serious allegations has ever been properly investigated. Until they are, it will appear that in the real drug war -- the one between key protected traffickers and the American people -- some parts of the U.S. government are on the wrong side.
‘Very, very disturbing indeed’
Turning the focus of our discussion to the Afghan drug problem, I noted that the U.S. mainstream corporate media routinely suggest that the Taliban is in control of the opium trade. However, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Anti-Government Elements (or AGEs), which include but are not limited to the Taliban, account for a relatively small percentage of the profits from the drug trade. Two of the U.S.’s own intelligence agencies, the CIA and the DIA, estimate that the Taliban receives about $70 million a year from the drugs trade. That may seem at first glance like a significant amount of money, but it’s only about two percent of the total estimated profits from the drug trade, a figure placed at $3.4 billion by the UNODC last year.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has just announced its new strategy for combating the drug problem: placing drug traffickers with ties to insurgents —and only drug lords with ties to insurgents — on a list to be eliminated. The vast majority of drug lords, in other words, are explicitly excluded as targets under the new strategy. Or, to put it yet another way, the U.S. will be assisting to eliminate the competition for drug lords allied with occupying forces or the Afghan government and helping them to further corner the market.
I pointed out to the former ISI chief that Afghan opium finds its way into Europe via Pakistan, via Iran and Turkey, and via the former Soviet republics. According to the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, convoys under General Rashid Dostum — who was reappointed last month to his government position as Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Afghan National Army by President Hamid Karzai — would truck the drugs over the border. And President Karzai’s own brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, has been accused of being a major drug lord. So I asked General Gul who was really responsible for the Afghan drug trade.
“Now, let me give you the history of the drug trade in Afghanistan,” his answer began. “Before the Taliban stepped into it, in 1994 — in fact, before they captured Kabul in September 1996 — the drugs, the opium production volume was 4,500 tons a year. Then gradually the Taliban came down hard upon the poppy growing. It was reduced to around 50 tons in the last year of the Taliban. That was the year 2001. Nearly 50 tons of opium produced. 50. Five-zero tons. Now last year the volume was at 6,200 tons. That means it has really gone one and a half times more than it used to be before the Taliban era.” He pointed out, correctly, that the U.S. had actually awarded the Taliban for its effective reduction of the drug trade. On top of $125 million the U.S. gave to the Taliban ostensibly as humanitarian aid, the State Department awarded the Taliban $43 million for its anti-drug efforts. “Of course, they made their mistakes,” General Gul continued. “But on the whole, they were doing fairly good. If they had been engaged in meaningful, fruitful, constructive talks, I think it would have been very good for Afghanistan.”
Returning to the drug trade, General Gul named the brother of President Karzai, Abdul Wali Karzai. “Abdul Wali Karzai is the biggest drug baron of Afghanistan,” he stated bluntly. He added that the drug lords are also involved in arms trafficking, which is “a flourishing trade” in Afghanistan. “But what is most disturbing from my point of view is that the military aircraft, American military aircraft are also being used. You said very rightly that the drug routes are northward through the Central Asia republics and through some of the Russian territory, and then into Europe and beyond. But some of it is going directly. That is by the military aircraft. I have so many times in my interviews said, ‘Please listen to this information, because I am an aware person.’ We have Afghans still in Pakistan, and they sometimes contact and pass on the stories to me. And some of them are very authentic. I can judge that. So they are saying that the American military aircraft are being used for this purpose. So, if that is true, it is very, very disturbing indeed.”
By Daily Mail Reporter
PUBLISHED: 22:55 EST, 28 June 2012 | UPDATED: 14:11 EST, 29 June 2012
Top CIA spy Enrique 'Ricky' Prado has been accused of working as a hitman for mobsters in Miami.
The shock allegations are outlined in a new book, How to Get Away with Murder in America, by journalist Evan Wright.
In the blockbuster story, Mr Wright claims the now retired agent started his career dropping bodies in Miami's criminal underworld and kept working for the mob even after joining the CIA.
Accused killer: CIA spy Enrique 'Ricky' Prado, pictured, has been accused of being an assassin on the pay role of notorious Miami mobsters
A veteran of the Central American wars, Mr Prado ran the Central Intelligence Agency's operations in Korea and was a top spy in America's espionage programs against China.
Later he became deputy to counter-terrorist chief Cofer Black and before doing a stint at Blackwater, according to Wired.
But Mr Wright, who is also the author of Generation Kill, the story of the Iraq invasion, alleges Mr Prado was involved with the Mafia throughout his revered career, which ended with him as head of the agency's secret assassination squad against Al Qaeda.
Shocking: Evan Wright's book, How to Get Away with Murder in America, pictured alleges Mr Prado was a hitman
'In protecting Prado, the CIA arguably allowed a new type of mole — an agent not of a foreign government but of American criminal interests — to penetrate command,' Mr Wright says in the book.
Journalist: Evan Wright, pictured, details lengthy dead end investigations into Miami's mafia in his new book
The author details years-long investigations into the Miami mafia by state and federal police that either went nowhere, were side-lined by those at the top or were derailed by light sentences.
As well as Mr Prado, the book tracks the life of notorious cocaine trafficker Alberto San Pedro, one of Mr Prado's childhood friends.
Mr Wright claims San Pedro hosted parties for Miami's rich and famous, lost one of his testicles in a drive-by shooting, tortured guard dogs for fun and imported tens of millions of dollars of cocaine into the United States each year, according to Wired.
Meanwhile, Mr Prado was moonlighting as a killer, according to the journalist who claims investigators with the Miami-Dade Police Department's organised crime squad suspected him of participating in at least seven murders and one attempted murder.
And the bodies continued to fall as Mr Prado was working his way up inside the CIA, the book purports, with one alleged victim, a cocaine distributor in Colorado, being killed by a car bomb.
Interview with member of parliament Malalai Joya...(excerpt)By the way, one hears more about Karzai’s brother in Kabul than Karzai himself. Every other posh real estate project or every second case of corruption is attributed to the younger Karzai. He is also named when it comes to drug peddling?
Joya: Corruption and drug trafficking have become a big issues. In my view, security is the biggest issue. After that it is corruption. The so-called international community which in fact is US government and its allies, has sent a lot of money. This amount was enough to build two instead of one Afghanistan. But even Karzai himself confesses that the money has ended up in the pockets of ministers, bureaucrats and member parliaments. On the other hand, one hears about a mother in Heart selling her daughter for ten dollars. And not merely the brother of Karzai is a drug lord, foreign troops have been allegedly involved.
Really? Any proof? Press reports?
Joya: Yes some press reports have pointed that out. For instance, Russian state TV has hinted at US troops involvement in drug trafficking. That was reported in the press here. But this is like an open secret. Karzai in one of his speeches last year said that it was not only Afghans who are involved in drug trafficking. He hinted at foreign connections. Though he did not name any country or troops but people in Afghanistan understood what he meant. Now Afghan drugs are finding their way to New York and European capitals. Hence, no wonder today Afghanistan is producing 90 per cent of world opium. This is taking its toll on women. Now we hear about ‘opium brides’. When harvests fail, peasants are not able to pay back loans to drug lords; they ‘marry’ their daughters off to warlords instead.
Why is the USA letting all this happen?
Joya: The USA wants the things as they are.The status quo. A bleeding, suffering Afghanistan is a good excuse to prolong its stay. Now they are even embracing the Taliban. Recently, in Musa Qila, a Taliban commander Mulla Salam was appointed as governor by Karzai. The USA has no problem with the Taliban so long as it’s ‘our Taliban’.
Not merely Karzai, but also all these war lords have been sustained in power by the USA. That is why, when there are demonstrations against war lords, there are also demonstrations against foreign troops. People here believe that the warlords are cushioned by the US troops. If the USA leaves, the warlords will loose power because they have no base among our people. The people of Afghanistan will deal with these warlords once US troops leave Afghanistan.********************
Tuesday, 22. May 2012
Wednesday, 23. May 2012 by Sibel edmondshttp://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2012/05/23/afghan-heroin-myths-and-facts-recapped-simplified-for-mainstream-followers/
A Russian source recently brought an obscure but disturbing article to my attention. Published last month by a little-known online journal called the Oriental Review, the piece, "Active Endeavour And Drug Trafficking," proposed that not a single gram of heroin has been confiscated on the Mediterranean Sea since the inception of NATO's Operation Active Endeavour, a maritime operation launched a month after the September 11th attacks with the mission of "monitoring shipping to help detect, deter and protect against terrorist activity."
My first thought was that perhaps this information was being torqued for some reason by the self-described "Moscow-based internet journal." But upon further research, I found that not only had Russia itself been involved in Operation Endeavour as a non-NATO country, but that the Russians had cooperated with American troops in post-9/11 anti-heroin proliferation efforts in Afghanistan.
In November 2011, Reuters quoted Russia's anti-drug czar, Viktor Ivanov, as saying that five Russian-American raids of heroin laboratories in Afghanistan, conducted over a five-month period in late 2010 and early 2011, basically represented the sum of the combined anti-heroin efforts there. Ivanov sounded frustrated by the "cumbersome" process of getting the military approval required as a prerequisite to any such raid and seemed to credit this with the demise of the Afghanistan anti-heroin efforts.
Why would Russia be particularly frustrated? The Hindu, an English-language newspaper in India, noted in a 2008 article that 90 percent of heroin in Russia and 93 percent globally was coming from Afghanistan. The article quoted Vladimir Putin as complaining as far back as 2005: "Unfortunately, (NATO) are doing nothing to reduce the narcotic threat from Afghanistan even a tiny bit ... sitting back and watching caravans haul drugs across Afghanistan to the former Soviet Union and Europe."
This background helps illustrate the larger history of Russia's exasperation with NATO inaction in curtailing the heroin trade, and it offers context to the Oriental Journal piece specifically addressing the interception (or lack thereof) of heroin on merchant ships in the Mediterranean.
But does Russia have cause to complain? Has there really been no heroin confiscated during the 10-plus years of Operation Active Endeavour? That seems hard to believe, given this claim on the website for Operation Active Endeavour: "NATO forces have hailed over 100,000 merchant vessels and boarded some 155 suspect ships. ... If anything appears unusual or suspicious, teams of between 15 and 20 of the ships' crew may board vessels to inspect documentation and cargo."
By David Williams UPDATED: 05:19 EST, 17 February 2012
The West is losing the heroin war in Afghanistan – ten years after Tony Blair pledged that wiping out the drug was one of the main reasons for invading the country.
Despite spending £18billion and a conflict which has so far cost the lives of almost 400 British troops, production of the class-A drug by Afghan farmers rose between 2001 and 2011 from just 185 tons to a staggering 5,800 tons.
It increased by 61 per cent last year alone.
Broken pledge: Then prime minister Tony Blair meets British troops in Afghanistan in 2006
Thriving: An Afghan farmer collects raw opium from poppies in Balkh province, Afghanistan. Heroin production in the country has increased by 61 per cent in the last year
Such has been the failure to combat the problem that more than 90 per cent of the heroin sold on Britain’s streets is still made using opium from Afghanistan.
The United Nations yesterday warned that the situation was out of control.
Declaring that the West had lost its war against the drug, a glum UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon added: ‘Time is not on our side.’
The UN figures make grim reading for those who backed the invasion.
Cutting the supply of heroin was one of the prime reasons given by then-prime minister Tony Blair in 2001 for sending in British troops.
Three weeks after the attack on America’s Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, Mr Blair said: ‘The arms the Taliban are buying today are paid for by the lives of young British people buying their drugs on British streets. This is another part of their regime we should seek to destroy.’
Warning: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said the drug problem in Afghanistan threatens the entire country with organised crime and trafficking
But ten years later, the UN figures reveal how the outcome has been so dramatically different.
Some 15 per cent of Afghanistan’s Gross National Product now comes from drug-related exports – a business worth up to £1.6billion each year, it was claimed.
Officials say there is clear evidence that the opium trade is being orchestrated by the Taliban, with vast profits used to buy weapons and fuel the insurgency.
The warning came at a meeting in Austria of more than 50 countries.
Britain alone has spent an estimated £18billion – a further £4billion is said to have been earmarked for this year – in Afghanistan, where 398 of its troops have died and thousands have been injured.
The most recent was Senior Aircraftman Ryan Tomlin, from 2 Squadron RAF Regiment, who was fatally wounded by small arms fire during an insurgent attack on Monday in Helmand Province – the heart of the opium industry.
Ironically, the Taliban had overseen a significant fall in heroin production in the months before the invasion. Their leader Mullah Mohammed Omar – collaborating with the UN – had decreed that growing poppies was un-Islamic, resulting in one of the world’s most successful anti-drug campaigns.
As a result of this ban, opium poppy cultivation was reduced by 91 per cent from the previous year’s estimate of 82,172 hectares.
The ban was so effective that Helmand Province, which had accounted for more than half of this production, recorded no poppy cultivation during the 2001 season.
However, with the overthrow of the Taliban opium fields returned, despite the destruction of crops by coalition forces and initiatives to persuade farmers to switch to other produce.
There was some success but, commanders said, the ‘reality’ was that forces were too thinly stretched to focus on crop destruction – a move that, anyway, turned farmers against the troops.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimated that the 2006 harvest was around 6,100 tons, 33 times its level in 2001, a 3,200 per cent increase in five years.
Cost: A British soldier stands guard as a Chinook helicopter lands supplies. Britain has spent £18billion on curbing heroin production in Afghanistan and it was the main justifications for the country's involvement in the war when it stated in 2001
Cultivation in 2006 reached a record 165,000 hectares compared with 104,000 in 2005 and 7,606 in 2001 under the Taliban. This fell in figures for 2010 because of crop disease, but the UN figures show that it increased sharply again last year when 131,000 hectares were under cultivation, producing some 5,800 tons of opium.
The rise came even though the Afghan government and Nato have boosted crop eradication measures by 65 per cent and made significant seizures in recent months. The UN says there are now 17 provinces in Afghanistan affected by poppy cultivation, up from 14 a year ago.
Experts say the Taliban’s involvement in the drugs trade ranges from direct assistance – such as providing farmers with seed, fertiliser and cash advances – to distribution and protection.
In his opening address to the Vienna conference, the UN Secretary General warned that the problem extends beyond those who abuse drugs and is threatening Afghanistan itself.
‘Drug trafficking and transnational organized crime undermine the health of fragile states, (and) weaken the rule of law,’ he said, ‘Above all, the Afghan government must prioritise the issue of narcotics.’
A report by the UN Office of Drugs and Crime said revenue from opium production in Afghanistan soared by 133 per cent last year to about £900million after the crop recovered from a 2010 blight and approached previous levels.
Ban Ki-moon, in his opening comments, cited a 2011 UN survey saying that poppy cultivation has increased by 7 per cent and opium production by 61 per cent in the past year.
Zarar Ahmed Moqbel Osmani, the Afghan minister, said his country understood international concerns but noted that ‘95 per cent of poppy cultivation takes place in nine insecure provinces’.
He urged the international community to work hard in preventing the components needed to turn opium into heroin from entering Afghanistan from neighbouring countries.
In an interview late Thursday, Dmitry Rogozin also highlighted the lack of cohesion within NATO, saying Moscow is worried about declining public support in Europe for the war.
"(Russia) is losing 30,000 lives a year to the Afghan drug trade, and a million people are addicts," Rogozin said. "This is an undeclared war against our country."
"We are obviously very dissatisfied with the lack of attention from NATO and the United States to our complaints about this problem."
For years, the allies tried to eradicate poppy crops, but that resulted in a boost to the insurgency as impoverished poppy farmers joined the Taliban. Gen. Stanley McChrystal's new policy of trying to win the support of the population means that these farmers are now left alone, enabling them to tend crops that produce 90% of the world's heroin.
Russia says that drug production in Afghanistan has increased tenfold since the U.S.-led invasion that ousted the Taliban regime in 2001. Smugglers freely transport Afghan heroin and opium north into Central Asia and Russia, and also on to Western Europe.
Rogozin pointed to Washington's inconsistency in its attitude to international drug trafficking saying that in contrast to Afghanistan, it was waging a drug war in Colombia because that was the primary source of cocaine that goes to America.
"But in the case of the heroin which goes to Russia, they are doing practically nothing," he said. "This is not how you treat your friends and partners."
NATO spokesman James Appathurai said the alliance understands Russian concerns, and that the problem affects Europe as well. The most important part of solving the drug trade was helping to defeat the insurgency, and NATO has 120,000 troops trying to do just that, he said.
Appathurai noted that the U.N. cites the Marjah region, where NATO has just completed a large-scale offensive, as one of the world's foremost opium-producing areas. "By helping re-establish government control there, we are making a substantial contribution to the counter-narcotics effort," he said.
"We would welcome increased support from Russia for our overall effort and (NATO) has made very specific requests to Moscow which they are considering," Appathurai said.
Russia contributes logistical support for NATO- and U.S.-led operations by providing a vital land and air transit corridor for the shipment of supplies to the international force. It also services Soviet helicopters and organizes training for the Afghan anti-drug police. But Moscow has always ruled out sending ground troops.
During the Cold War, the Soviets provided military support for the secular Afghan government, and sent over 100,000 troops to defend it against religious fundamentalists being financed by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Britain, and other Western nations. More than 9,000 Soviet soldiers were killed in the 10-year war in the 1980s.
"Today we are helping them fight the same fanatics whom they supported against us 20 years ago," Rogozin noted.
He expressed concern over weakening support for the nine-year war from America's European allies, "who ended up in Afghanistan without really knowing what they were doing there."
"The result is falling public commitment to the war," he said.
Last month, the Dutch government collapsed because it tried to comply with a NATO request to keep its 2,000-strong contingent in Afghanistan. The Dutch crisis, and growing public opposition in other European countries to further involvement in Afghanistan, has sparked fears that other NATO nations might also pull out their troops.
"NATO is still dominated by the United States, and European allies still fall in line just to keep the alliance going, (by) participating in U.S.-initiated military adventures, even though their national interests in doing so are far from clear," said Ian Buruma, a professor of democracy at Bard College in New York.
"It is hard to see how this can continue for much longer."
Drug Smuggling, CIA, FBI, Iran Contra, JFK, RFK, Kubark & MK-ULTRA, Jonestown [LitZ~Bundle]1963 CIA- Kubark 113-128.pdf1963 CIA- Kubark 1-60.pdf1963 CIA- Kubark 61-112.pdf1973 Prouty- The Secret Team (CIA).pdf1978- Dope Inc., Britain's Opium War Against the U.S..pdf1983 CIA- Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual (A1-G11).pdf1983 CIA- Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual (H0-L17).pdf1992- Iran Contra, The Mena Connection 1992.wmv1994 Castillo- Powderburns, Cocaine, Contra and the Drug War.pdf1997 Hopsicker- Secret Heartbeat of America 1.avi1997 Hopsicker- Secret Heartbeat of America 2.avi1997 Ruppert- CIA Drug Running (Granada Forum).avi1997 US Army Course- IT0601, Interrogation Course, Questioning Techniques.pdf2004 Millegan- Speech in San Fran (CIA drug smuggling).avi2006 Etymon- Evidence of Revision/2006 Etymon- Evidence of Revision:1 The Assassinations of Kennedy and Oswald as Never Seen Before.avi2 The Why of It - All Referenced to Viet Nam and LBJ.avi3 LBJ, Hoover and Others - What so Few Know Even Today.avi4 The RFK Assassination as Never Seen Before.avi5 The RFK Assassination Continued, MK ULTRA and the Jonestown Massacre - All Related.avi
Note--- the copy of Powderburns located here is better than the one in the torrent. it is all the spelling errors corrected and includes an update along with 150 pages of supporting documents and exhibitsPOWDERBURNS –complete book
Recently (2010), Maxine Waters was the subject of an ethics inquiry headed by Porter Goss(co-chair of the Office of Congressional Ethics), the same Ex-CIA official who presided over the HPSCI Contra drug hearings (1996 to 2000). is that retaliation for being outspoken? she was finally cleared this last september, 2012
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0912/81665.html https://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/22/us/politics/panel-finds-maxine-waters-didnt-violate-ethics-rules-in-bank-case.htmlhttp://articles.latimes.com/2012/sep/22/nation/la-na-waters-ethics-20120922/2*************************]Cynthia Mckinney
About Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following.
couple other interesting articles
THE CRIMES OF PATRIOTS -- A TRUE TALE OF DOPE, DIRTY MONEY, AND THE CIA
by Jonathan Kwitny © 1987 by Jonathan Kwitny
Table of Contents:
Jacket Cover Prologue Cast of Characters
Appendix: The Questions Whose Answers are Secret Afterword by Admiral Earl P. Yates, USN (ret.) Acknowledgments Index Photographs
by Douglas Valentinehttp://www.douglasvalentine.com/ © 1990, 2000 by Douglas ValentineThe Phoenix Program, described by Professor Alfred W. McCoy as "the definitive account" of the CIA's most secret and deadly covert operation of the Vietnam War. The complete book is here: http://www.naderlibrary.com/phoenixprogtoc.htm
THE PHOENIX PROGRAM
by Douglas Valentine © 1990, 2000 by Douglas Valentine
Table of Contents
Opening Pages Introduction Picture Gallery
Epilogue Appendix Glossary Notes Index*****************************************Also by Douglas ValentineThe Strength of the Pack: The Politics, Personalities and Espionage Intrigues That Shaped the DEA, described by Peter Dale Scott as "an indispensible resource for those who wish to understand the politics of drug enforcement in America;
The Strength of the Wolf: The Secret History of America’s War On Drugs by Douglas Valentine Verso Press, London/NY, 2004. 554pgs.review by Carlo Parcelli
OFF TOPIC-- Complete book online by the world's foremost expert on the NSA :http://www.naderlibrary.com/lit.bodyofsecrets.toc.htmBackground on Mr. Bamford is here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_BamfordBODY OF SECRETS -- ANATOMY OF THE ULTRA-SECRET NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY
by James Bamford © 2001, 2002 by James Bamford
To Mary Ann And to my father, Vincent And in memory of my mother, Katherine
THE BOOK OF HONOR -- THE SECRET LIVES AND DEATHS OF CIA OPERATIVES
by Ted Gup Copyright © 2000, 2001 by Ted Gup
A TIME TO QUESTION
CHAOS AND TERRORISM
Who controls the past controls the future, who controls the present controls the past. -- George Orwell
Secrecy, once accepted, becomes an addiction. -- Edward Teller, Physicist
Complete book online:http://www.naderlibrary.com/cia.insidecompanyagee.toc.htm
INSIDE THE COMPANY: CIA DIARY
by Philip Agee © 1975 by Philip Agee Published by the Stonehill Publishing Company, Third Printing
Dedicated to Angela Camargo Seixas and her comrades in Latin America struggling for social justice, national dignity and peace
The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate": The CIA and Mind Control, by John Marks The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, by Victor Marchetti and John D. Marks
THE CIA AND THE CULT OF INTELLIGENCE
by Victor Marchetti and John D. Marks, Introduction by Melvin L. Wulf © 1974 by Victor Marchetti and John D. Marks
The CIA book that the agency itself tried to suppress. The book in which Victor Marchetti, former high-ranking CIA official, tells how the agency actually works and how its original purpose has been subverted by its obsession with clandestine operations. The first book the U.S. Government ever went to court to censor before publication. Published with blank spaces indicating the exact location and length of the 168 deletions demanded by the CIA
AND YE SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH, AND THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE. -- John, VIII: 32 (inscribed on the marble wall of the main lobby at CIA headquarters, Langley, Virginia)
December 16, 2012 in United States
HSBC Case Study. To examine the current money laundering and terrorist financing threats associated with correspondent banking, the Subcommittee selected HSBC as a case study. HSBC is one of the largest financial institutions in the world, with over $2.5 trillion in assets, 89 million customers, 300,000 employees, and 2011 profits of nearly $22 billion. HSBC, whose initials originally stood for Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation, now has operations in over 80 countries, with hundreds of affiliates spanning the globe. Its parent corporation, HSBC Holdings plc, called “HSBC Group,” is headquartered in London, and its Chief Executive Officer is located in Hong Kong.Its key U.S. affiliate is HSBC Bank USA N.A. (HBUS). HBUS operates more than 470 bank branches throughout the United States, manages assets totaling about $200 billion, and serves around 3.8 million customers. It holds a national bank charter, and its primary regulator is the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which is part of the U.S. Treasury Department. HBUS is headquartered in McLean, Virginia, but has its principal office in New York City. HSBC acquired its U.S. presence by purchasing several U.S. financial institutions, including Marine Midland Bank and Republic National Bank of New York. A senior HSBC executive told the Subcommittee that HSBC acquired its U.S. affiliate, not just to compete with other U.S. banks for U.S. clients, but primarily to provide a U.S. platform to its non-U.S. clients and to use its U.S. platform as a selling point to attract still more non-U.S. clients. HSBC operates in many jurisdictions with weak AML controls, high risk clients, and high risk financial activities including Asia, Middle East, and Africa. Over the past ten years, HSBC has also acquired affiliates throughout Latin America. In many of these countries, the HSBC affiliate provides correspondent accounts to foreign financial institutions that, among other services, are interested in acquiring access to U.S. dollar wire transfers, foreign exchange, and other services. As a consequence, HSBC’s U.S. affiliate, HBUS, is required to interact with other HSBC affiliates and foreign financial institutions that face substantial AML challenges, often operate under weaker AML requirements, and may not be as familiar with, or respectful of, the tighter AML controls in the United States. HBUS’ correspondent services, thus, provide policymakers with a window into the vast array of money laundering and terrorist financing risks confronting the U.S. affiliates of global banks.…Disregarding Links to Terrorism. For decades, HSBC has been one of the most active global banks in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, despite being aware of the terrorist financing risks in those regions. In particular, HSBC has been active in Saudi Arabia, conducting substantial banking activities through affiliates as well as doing business with Saudi Arabia’s largest private financial institution, Al Rajhi Bank. After the 9-11 terrorist attack in 2001, evidence began to emerge that Al Rajhi Bank and some of its owners had links to financing organizations associated with terrorism, including evidence that the bank’s key founder was an early financial benefactor of al Qaeda. In 2005, HSBC announced internally that its affiliates should sever ties with Al Rajhi Bank, but then reversed itself four months later, leaving the decision up to each affiliate. HSBC Middle East, among other HSBC affiliates, continued to do business with the bank.Due to terrorist financing concerns, HBUS closed the correspondent banking and banknotes accounts it had provided to Al Rajhi Bank. For nearly two years, HBUS Compliance personnel resisted pressure from HSBC personnel in the Middle East and United States to resume business ties with Al Rajhi Bank. In December 2006, however, after Al Rajhi Bank threatened to pull all of its business from HSBC unless it regained access to HBUS’ U.S. banknotes program, HBUS agreed to resume supplying Al Rajhi Bank with shipments of U.S. dollars. Despite ongoing troubling information, HBUS provided nearly $1 billion in U.S. dollars to Al Rajhi Bank until 2010, when HSBC decided, on a global basis, to exit the U.S. banknotes business. HBUS also supplied U.S. dollars to two other banks, Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd. and Social Islami Bank, despite evidence of links to terrorist financing. Each of these specific cases shows how a global bank can pressure its U.S. affiliate to provide banks in countries at high risk of terrorist financing with access to U.S. dollars and the U.S. financial system.…A. FindingsThis Report makes the following findings of fact.(1) Longstanding Severe AML Deficiencies. HBUS operated its correspondent accounts for foreign financial institutions with longstanding, severe AML deficiencies, including a dysfunctional AML monitoring system for account and wire transfer activity, an unacceptable backlog of 17,000 unreviewed alerts, insufficient staffing, inappropriate country and client risk assessments, and late or missing Suspicious Activity Reports, exposing the United States. to money laundering, drug trafficking, and terrorist financing risks.(2) Taking on High Risk Affiliates. HBUS failed to assess the AML risks associated with HSBC affiliates before opening correspondent accounts for them, failed to identify high risk affiliates, and failed for years to treat HBMX as a high risk accountholder.(3) Circumventing OFAC Prohibitions. For years in connection with Iranian U-turn transactions, HSBC allowed two non-U.S. affiliates to engage in conduct to avoid triggering the OFAC filter and individualized transaction reviews. While HBUS insisted, when asked, that HSBC affiliates provide fully transparent transaction information, when it obtained evidence that some affiliates were acting to circumvent the OFAC filter, HBUS failed to take decisive action to confront those affiliates and put an end to conduct which even some within the bank viewed as deceptive.(4) Disregarding Terrorist Links. HBUS provided U.S. correspondent accounts to some foreign banks despite evidence of links to terrorist financing.(5) Clearing Suspicious Bulk Travelers Cheques. In less than four years, HBUS cleared over $290 million in sequentially numbered, illegibly signed, bulk U.S. dollar travelers cheques for Hokuriku Bank, which could not explain why its clients were regularly depositing up to $500,000 or more per day in U.S. dollar travelers cheques obtained in Russia into Japanese accounts, supposedly for selling used cars; even after learning of Hokuriku’s poor AML controls, HBUS continued to do business with the bank.(6) Offering Bearer Share Accounts. Over the course of a decade, HBUS opened over 2,000 high risk bearer share corporate accounts with inadequate AML controls.(7) Allowing AML Problems to Fester. The OCC allowed HBUS’ AML deficiencies to fester for years, in part due to treating HBUS’ AML problems as consumer compliance matters rather than safety and soundness problems, failing to make timely use of formal and informal enforcement actions to compel AML reforms at the bank, and focusing on AML issues in specific HBUS banking units without also viewing them on an institution-wide basis.
HSBC Case Study. To examine the current money laundering and terrorist financing threats associated with correspondent banking, the Subcommittee selected HSBC as a case study. HSBC is one of the largest financial institutions in the world, with over $2.5 trillion in assets, 89 million customers, 300,000 employees, and 2011 profits of nearly $22 billion. HSBC, whose initials originally stood for Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation, now has operations in over 80 countries, with hundreds of affiliates spanning the globe. Its parent corporation, HSBC Holdings plc, called “HSBC Group,” is headquartered in London, and its Chief Executive Officer is located in Hong Kong.
Its key U.S. affiliate is HSBC Bank USA N.A. (HBUS). HBUS operates more than 470 bank branches throughout the United States, manages assets totaling about $200 billion, and serves around 3.8 million customers. It holds a national bank charter, and its primary regulator is the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which is part of the U.S. Treasury Department. HBUS is headquartered in McLean, Virginia, but has its principal office in New York City. HSBC acquired its U.S. presence by purchasing several U.S. financial institutions, including Marine Midland Bank and Republic National Bank of New York. A senior HSBC executive told the Subcommittee that HSBC acquired its U.S. affiliate, not just to compete with other U.S. banks for U.S. clients, but primarily to provide a U.S. platform to its non-U.S. clients and to use its U.S. platform as a selling point to attract still more non-U.S. clients. HSBC operates in many jurisdictions with weak AML controls, high risk clients, and high risk financial activities including Asia, Middle East, and Africa. Over the past ten years, HSBC has also acquired affiliates throughout Latin America. In many of these countries, the HSBC affiliate provides correspondent accounts to foreign financial institutions that, among other services, are interested in acquiring access to U.S. dollar wire transfers, foreign exchange, and other services. As a consequence, HSBC’s U.S. affiliate, HBUS, is required to interact with other HSBC affiliates and foreign financial institutions that face substantial AML challenges, often operate under weaker AML requirements, and may not be as familiar with, or respectful of, the tighter AML controls in the United States. HBUS’ correspondent services, thus, provide policymakers with a window into the vast array of money laundering and terrorist financing risks confronting the U.S. affiliates of global banks.
Disregarding Links to Terrorism. For decades, HSBC has been one of the most active global banks in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, despite being aware of the terrorist financing risks in those regions. In particular, HSBC has been active in Saudi Arabia, conducting substantial banking activities through affiliates as well as doing business with Saudi Arabia’s largest private financial institution, Al Rajhi Bank. After the 9-11 terrorist attack in 2001, evidence began to emerge that Al Rajhi Bank and some of its owners had links to financing organizations associated with terrorism, including evidence that the bank’s key founder was an early financial benefactor of al Qaeda. In 2005, HSBC announced internally that its affiliates should sever ties with Al Rajhi Bank, but then reversed itself four months later, leaving the decision up to each affiliate. HSBC Middle East, among other HSBC affiliates, continued to do business with the bank.
Due to terrorist financing concerns, HBUS closed the correspondent banking and banknotes accounts it had provided to Al Rajhi Bank. For nearly two years, HBUS Compliance personnel resisted pressure from HSBC personnel in the Middle East and United States to resume business ties with Al Rajhi Bank. In December 2006, however, after Al Rajhi Bank threatened to pull all of its business from HSBC unless it regained access to HBUS’ U.S. banknotes program, HBUS agreed to resume supplying Al Rajhi Bank with shipments of U.S. dollars. Despite ongoing troubling information, HBUS provided nearly $1 billion in U.S. dollars to Al Rajhi Bank until 2010, when HSBC decided, on a global basis, to exit the U.S. banknotes business. HBUS also supplied U.S. dollars to two other banks, Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd. and Social Islami Bank, despite evidence of links to terrorist financing. Each of these specific cases shows how a global bank can pressure its U.S. affiliate to provide banks in countries at high risk of terrorist financing with access to U.S. dollars and the U.S. financial system.
This Report makes the following findings of fact.
(1) Longstanding Severe AML Deficiencies. HBUS operated its correspondent accounts for foreign financial institutions with longstanding, severe AML deficiencies, including a dysfunctional AML monitoring system for account and wire transfer activity, an unacceptable backlog of 17,000 unreviewed alerts, insufficient staffing, inappropriate country and client risk assessments, and late or missing Suspicious Activity Reports, exposing the United States. to money laundering, drug trafficking, and terrorist financing risks.
(2) Taking on High Risk Affiliates. HBUS failed to assess the AML risks associated with HSBC affiliates before opening correspondent accounts for them, failed to identify high risk affiliates, and failed for years to treat HBMX as a high risk accountholder.
(3) Circumventing OFAC Prohibitions. For years in connection with Iranian U-turn transactions, HSBC allowed two non-U.S. affiliates to engage in conduct to avoid triggering the OFAC filter and individualized transaction reviews. While HBUS insisted, when asked, that HSBC affiliates provide fully transparent transaction information, when it obtained evidence that some affiliates were acting to circumvent the OFAC filter, HBUS failed to take decisive action to confront those affiliates and put an end to conduct which even some within the bank viewed as deceptive.
(4) Disregarding Terrorist Links. HBUS provided U.S. correspondent accounts to some foreign banks despite evidence of links to terrorist financing.
(5) Clearing Suspicious Bulk Travelers Cheques. In less than four years, HBUS cleared over $290 million in sequentially numbered, illegibly signed, bulk U.S. dollar travelers cheques for Hokuriku Bank, which could not explain why its clients were regularly depositing up to $500,000 or more per day in U.S. dollar travelers cheques obtained in Russia into Japanese accounts, supposedly for selling used cars; even after learning of Hokuriku’s poor AML controls, HBUS continued to do business with the bank.
(6) Offering Bearer Share Accounts. Over the course of a decade, HBUS opened over 2,000 high risk bearer share corporate accounts with inadequate AML controls.
(7) Allowing AML Problems to Fester. The OCC allowed HBUS’ AML deficiencies to fester for years, in part due to treating HBUS’ AML problems as consumer compliance matters rather than safety and soundness problems, failing to make timely use of formal and informal enforcement actions to compel AML reforms at the bank, and focusing on AML issues in specific HBUS banking units without also viewing them on an institution-wide basis.
Tags: Drug Trafficking, HSBC, Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing No Comments »
Earlier this month we learned that the Obama Administration is significantly expanding the number of covert Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) agents overseas. From just a few hundred DIA agents overseas today, the administration intends to eventually deploy some 1,600 covert agents. The nature of their work will also shift, away from intelligence collection and more toward covert actions. This move signals a major change in how the administration intends to conduct military and paramilitary operations overseas. Unfortunately it is not a shift toward peace, but rather to an even more deadly and disturbing phase in the “war on terror.”
DOJ officials unblinkingly insist that the banking giant is too powerful and important to subject to the rule of law
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/12/hsbc-prosecution-fine-money-launderingGreat article by one my favorite writers
Posted: 12/28/2012 3:31 pm EST | Updated: 12/28/2012 3:43 pm EST