to Get the U.S. Government Out of the International Drug Trade
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heroin is on its way Big Time, because we're going to allow those
who we are allied with to get away with it."
- U.S. Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), November 2001
mission was to do as much damage as possible to the Soviets. We didn't
really have the resources or the time to devote to an investigation
of the drug trade. I don't think that we need to apologize for this.
Every situation has its fallout."
- Charles Cogan, former director, CIA Afghanistan operations, speaking
and Andean cocaine are the inevitable "fallout" of the way
the United States conducts foreign policy. Congresswoman Maxine Waters'
warning to the State of the Black World conference late last year,
in Atlanta, is a prophetic certainty. The heroin and cocaine epidemics
that have ravaged Black America since the late Sixties, deforming
our communities in ways beyond measure, are the direct result of U.S.
government facilitation of the international drug trade.
We believe Cogan.
The CIA didn't mean to smooth the way for the export of Afghan heroin,
but that's what they did. We don't think that anyone, in any U.S.
government agency, ever had a meeting and decided to flood American
cities with drugs. But that's what they have succeeded in doing, over
and over again, since the early years of the Vietnam War.
And they will
continue, unless the U.S. Congress stops them.
As surely as
night follows day, George Bush's frenzied interventions around the
globe under the cover of a war against "terror" will unleash
new deluges of heroin and cocaine onto American streets. It is this
terror, the scourge that threatens the very viability of African American
society, which must be resisted by every possible means, and without
We must cut off
the money that services and continually reinvents the drug trade,
a network of international connections that is the highway of choice
for U.S. covert operatives around the world. The CIA and its sister
agencies know no other methods than criminality in carrying out their
"anti-communist" or "anti-terror" mandates.
We need no apologies
from the likes of the CIA's Charles Cogan. Rather, he and his colleagues
should be serving life terms in prison for crimes against the American
people, for allowing their Afghan and Pakistani underlings to capture
60% of the U.S. heroin market in just two years, between 1979 and
1981. Prior to the CIA's Afghan war against the Soviets, the region's
heroin exports to the U.S. were negligible. Cogan calls that "fallout."
Any honest judge would describe it as facilitation of drug dealing
on a global scale.
We will accept
no apologies from the men who, a decade or so earlier, created the
logistical system that boosted Southeast Asian heroin production ten-fold.
This "fallout" from the Vietnam War turned Thailand into
the whorehouse of Asia and fundamentally altered the character and
quality of life in urban America. The death toll mounts, still. What
penalty is appropriate?
Reagan aide Oliver
North remains unapologetic after barely escaping jail in the Eighties,
having committed innumerable narco-crimes as head of a criminal army
seeking to overthrow the government of Nicaragua. His ascendancy coincided
with the Great Crack Epidemic, which only subsided after U.S. military
and CIA involvement in Central America was drastically reduced. Instead,
hundreds of thousands of other Americans are serving prison drug terms,
having been positioned at the wrong end of narcotics deals.
History is clear
and undeniable. U.S. intelligence agencies have a perverted, modern
form of the Midas Touch: everything they lay hands on turns to drugs,
murder and corruption. Maxine Waters is right. Afghan heroin is on
the way, "Big Time."
So is Colombian
cocaine. For example, North's friends at Eagle Aviation Services,
purported specialists in ferrying weapons and narco-products, are
among the many U.S. mercenary corporate outfits hired to teach Colombia's
police and armed forces the fine points of drug eradication. ("Put
it on our plane. Poof! It's gone!")
We must now expect
a narcotics onslaught from multiple points around the globe, simultaneously.
In the guise of a war on terrorism - which means whatever George Bush
wants it to mean - and at breakneck speed, the U.S. is setting up
shop in several former Soviet Central Asian republics, as well as
the former Soviet Georgia, in the Caucusus. The official excuse is
anti-terror, the real reason is oil and natural gas, but the end result
will be tons of poppy derivatives bound for the United States: the
and the Philippines are also great places for cultivating drug enterprises
to pay off foreign collaborators in the world war on "terror."
U.S. intelligence agencies are there, in force, looking for recruits
in dark places. We have an idea how they will be compensated.
The same actors
that brought us the previous drug epidemics are in charge of these
far-flung outposts, employing identical modus operandi, infecting
yet more regions of the world with their fatal touch.
own people, neighborhoods and institutions will sicken and die, "fallout"
victims in far greater numbers than perished at the World Trade Center.
The Great Heroin
and Cocaine Epidemics of the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties did not
simply burn themselves out. Nor were they smothered by brilliant police
work. The momentum of madness slowed only after the U.S. Congress
cut off money, first for the Vietnam War in 1975, then for the war
against Nicaragua in the following decade.
The fall of the
Saigon regime separated the CIA from many of its drug-dealing friends
in Southeast Asia, giving the heroin markets of the U.S. a few years
of relative stability. Pundits commented on the aging nature of the
surviving junky population.
the early Eighties, crack cocaine screamed into the ghettos like a
thousand banshees. Reagan's wars against the Sandinista government
in Nicaragua and rebels in neighboring El Salvador had sent the CIA
into every criminal den from Miami to the tip of Argentina, scrounging
for commie-killing recruits and pilots to fly them and their weapons
around Latin America. In the process, Colombia's government was turned
into the definition of a narco-regime. That, too, was "fallout"
of U.S. foreign policy, for which Americans and Colombians continue
Victims of the
crack wars at home piled up in appalling numbers, "collateral
damage" in Reagan's jihad against left wing Latin American peasants.
Heroin was also
making a comeback, cheaper and more potent stuff from the fields of
Afghanistan. In addition to consuming at least $2 billion in U.S.
military goods and services, the Afghan "freedom fighters"
and their Pakistani partners were rewarded with a world-class, American
drug franchise. Thanks to the U.S. national security establishment,
not a single Afghan or Pakistani was ever prosecuted for moving vast
quantities of heroin into U.S. cities and towns.
The CIA protects
its own, leaving the U.S. population naked to narcotics aggression.
The Boland Amendment,
passed by Congress in 1982 in an attempt to halt the war against Nicaragua,
did not stop the Reagan administration's love fest with the murderous
classes of Latin America. But it can be argued that the measure's
simple language slowed down the slaughter in Nicaragua, exposed U.S.
Central American policy as a criminal enterprise and, finally, blunted
the ferocity of the cocaine explosion on American streets.
The measure prohibited
the use of taxpayer money "for the purpose of overthrowing the
Government of Nicaragua." The Reaganites insisted that, while
the wording of the law applied to the CIA, the National Security Agency
was exempted. From the NSA's White House basement offices, Oliver
North began assembling the dregs of international society, most of
them drawn from the CIA's long list of assassins, terrorists, drug
dealers, and assorted right wing lunatics.
In the process
of continuing the illegal war, North & Co. entered into a complicated
and desperate deal with Iran, then at the top of the White House "terrorist
states" list, selling the Ayatollah anti-tank missiles and transferring
the proceeds to the new, Contra army. But North's Nicaraguan recruits,
who were essentially mercenaries, needed more money. The basement
warrior sounded the alarm, and the drug dealers came calling.
was sloppy. Soon, the whole world knew that American planes were delivering
guns to the Contras and returning with loads of cocaine. The Reagan
Latin American policy was thoroughly discredited and, although the
Boland Amendment was finally defeated by a resurgent right wing Congress,
the momentum of the murderous war and blatant cocaine smuggling by
U.S. operatives, was gone. Relative peace emerged in Central America,
and the crack epidemic slowly, fitfully abated.
foreign adventures were brief and shallow and, lo and behold, American
crime and opiate and coca use declined. Crime statistics are not subject
to easy interpretation, but there is no question that street drug
markets became less volatile during the Clinton years, which coincided
with U.S. withdrawal from Afghan affairs and reduced meddling in Latin
America. (In the interim, Mexico became the chief narco-state, but
that's another story.)
is about to end.
Pull the Plug
If you thought
the CIA was crazy back in the day, prepare for a new level of rogue
madness. George Bush thinks he has a blank check to intervene anywhere
and everywhere, waving the bloody flag of September 11. His plans
for stationing spooks around the planet are so ambitious, his targets
so numerous and his deployment so manic, it is doubtful that the secret
services have enough manpower to carry out the missions.
This will cause
the CIA and its sisters to dig even deeper into the garbage bins of
global gangsterdom, all the while demanding that taxpayers front the
money for more mercenaries and contract agents. Dope franchises will,
once again, become the common currency of payment for services rendered
to the U.S. national security apparatus. This is simply the way the
is predictable. But we at The Black Commentator are confident that,
this time around, African Americans and progressives will know how
to resist the terror that a new wave of drug epidemics threatens to
bring to our communities. More than 30 years of experience with U.S.
government facilitation of drug dealing should be sufficient to inform
A true "homeland
defense" policy is one that prevents the government from making
deals with the devil. A genuine "anti-terror" agenda is
one that stands like a rock, blocking the flow of drugs into our neighborhoods.
The drug trade is the real, everyday source of urban terror. Nothing
is more of a threat to our national life.
We must take
Bush's drug checkbook away. What we propose is elimination of the
national security regime's discretionary account. We now know what
they do with the money, that they cannot help themselves and, like
junkies, cannot be trusted anywhere in the vicinity of poppies and
coca plants. We now understand that the human "fallout"
of their drug machinations is of no concern to American foreign policy
makers. But it is our top priority.
Make the Amendment
It is once again
time for the U.S. Congress to exercise its control of the national
purse, through mechanisms independent of the executive branch. The
State Department's annual evaluation of the drug export practices
of the world's nations is a sham and a farce. (See, "And Then
There Was One", at the end of this commentary) Successive American
administrations have been in league with narco-states, rather than
in opposition to them. Serious sanctions are reserved for Iran, Iraq
and North Korea, which send virtually no narcotics across our borders,
while the trade embargo against Cuba, the most drug-free society in
the Western Hemisphere, is more than 40 years old.
legislation would have the following effect:
The U.S. government
would be prohibited from all direct or indirect contracts with or
subsidies to the security forces of those nations with the most egregious
records of drug exports to the United States. Further, no corporation
that contracts with the security forces of the targeted foreign states
would be eligible to enter into any contract with the U.S. government.
nations would be designated by the General Accounting Office of the
U.S. Congress, based solely on the illicit drug activity generated
within or across those nations' borders, or through the banks of those
countries, as measured by reputable national and international agencies.
The Drug Enforcement
Administration should be the one exception to this firewall, designed
to separate American drug facilitators from foreign drug providers.
The DEA are cops, not geopolitical games players. For that very reason,
the DEA is most often the loser in bureaucratic and policy disputes
with the CIA and the State Department.
With the CIA
and its ilk out of the way, it is possible that the DEA might even
make a real contribution to curbing international drug trafficking.
(More than likely, however, Oliver North types will suddenly turn
up in foreign lands, flashing DEA credentials.)
No matter how
the General Accounting Office measures drug trafficking activity -
by acres under cultivation, quantities trans-shipped across borders,
or drug money on deposit in banks - Mexico, Colombia and Panama must
certainly top the list. Thailand should be grouped with Burma, the
mother of all poppy sources, rivaled only by Afghanistan, since Bangkok
is the service center for Rangoon's harvest.
Put simply, the
law would be designed to stop the U.S. government from doing what
comes naturally: corrupting nations and becoming corrupted by the
international drug trade, which is itself largely a creature of historic
U.S. policy. The legislation would also halt the Bush administration's
wholesale commissioning of private, but clearly CIA-controlled firms,
to carry out its wars in the Third World, most notably in Colombia
but with new theaters of operation threatening to open daily.
As the Reagan
administration's attempts to defy the Boland Amendment in the 1980s
should have taught us, the Bush people must be given no wiggle room.
Their purpose in life is to bend nations to their will, recruiting
the most ruthless criminals as allies along the way. The only way
to prevent these men from setting up more drug franchises with impunity
to transport their products into our cities is to separate U.S. military
and intelligence agencies from the sources of narcotics.
There is no mystery
here. Those who call the situation "complicated" are either
spreading confusion or confused themselves.
We are also taking
a cue from Bush's own logic. He has proclaimed to the world a core
position: The U.S. will have no dealings with nations that harbor
must be: We will outlaw all substantive contact between U.S. military,
security and intelligence agencies and their counterparts in the worst
drug exporting nations, and will treat as pariahs all private corporations
that do business with the security agencies of those nations.
This is a necessary
act of self-defense, against both the foreign drug lords and our own,
hopelessly drug-tainted intelligence agencies. It is also an act in
defense of the honor of the U.S. military, which has been soiled in
every engagement it has undertaken in the drug-soaked environments
prepared by the CIA, most dramatically in Vietnam.
In much the same
fashion, this proposal is intended as a defense of the people of the
drug exporting nations, whose societies have become grotesque under
the heels of politicians and militaries that are in league with drug
dealers and buttressed by the darkest powers of Washington.
This is the raw reality of Colombia, the slightly more hidden truth
about Mexico, the debauched state of affairs in Thailand, the unreconstructed
mode of business in Panama - all great friends of the United States
government, yet ruled by the deadliest enemies of the American people,
and their own.
A South Africa
drug policy in this light: Had the United States proposed establishing
official liaisons and training missions with the security agencies
of pre-Mandela South Africa, Black America would have become apoplectic.
We would immediately have understood that allowing U.S. personnel
to cozy up with the soldiers and policemen of apartheid would inevitably
result in new and deeper alliances that could only reinforce the power
and prestige of the white regime. Our common sense would have told
us that such contacts could only serve to drench collaborating U.S.
agencies with the racist stench. None of us would have bought the
argument that Americans could act as liberalizing influences on the
South African Defense Forces and police, much less the regime's intelligence
Rather, in defiance
of the government of the United States, we demanded the utter isolation
of Pretoria until the regime either collapsed or restructured itself.
Finally, the rich whites and multi-national corporations that ruled
South Africa capitulated.
is an industrial giant, yet it caved in. Colombia, Panama and Thailand
are not. Afghanistan is a U.S. protectorate. Mexico is more vulnerable
to U.S. pressure than any nation in the world. Yet drug export and
trans-shipment from these lands to the U.S. continues, undiminished,
despite the huge American presence on their soil.
No, it is as
a result of the American presence that these nations have become
the bordellos of the planet, the primary sources of devastation of
American cities. For example, under the post-invasion regime backed
by the U.S., Panamanian banks quickly surpassed General Manuel Noriega's
record of drug money laundering. This, while the country was under
all but total control of U.S. military and intelligence agencies!
We do not need
trade embargos against these countries to change the behavior of their
governments. They do not need U.S. agents, spies, soldiers or mercenaries
to locate and arrest their own drug lords, few of whom live in jungles.
The only way
to alter the behavior of dope-facilitating U.S. agencies is to keep
them away from their counterparts in the offending countries. The
two depend upon each other to maintain the international narcotics
connections that have been so carefully constructed since the beginning
of the Cold War, and perfected during and after the Vietnam War.
We must separate
these Siamese twins. At least one of them, the foreign sibling, might
very well die.
What we are proposing
could lead to civil wars in the countries that are potential targets
of the legislation, all of them U.S. clients. So be it. (Colombia,
of course, has been wracked by civil war for almost 40 years.)
The drug villains
are the guys who are currently in control of these nations, backed
by the American foreign policy apparatus. It is in the interests of
the American people that these regimes be overthrown. (Does that sound
familiar, Bush?) It is also in the interests of the citizens of those
nations. We would lift a great burden from them by forcing the withdrawal
of U.S. military and intelligence support from their corrupt rulers.
In the end, rather
than face isolation from the military and intelligence networks of
the world's only superpower, prudent people of influence in these
countries will solve the drug export problem themselves, probably
by killing their erstwhile friends. We welcome such outcomes.
operating in these countries will also play a role, as they did in
South Africa. American executives feel naked without their own nation's
spooks and uniforms running around, and will lend their considerable
clout to those indigenous forces willing to move against the drug
We have no problem
with Bush using his smart bombs to destroy drug refineries in foreign
countries. That is a legitimate matter of self-defense, but it only
happens in the movies. In the real world, friends of regimes backed
by Washington profit from those refineries. For almost two generations,
impunity has been their reward. The torch is reserved for the fields
of poor peasants, and then just for show.
would flip the script. The consequences of maintaining a narco-economy
might prove fatal.
The CIA seldom
assassinates its drug-dealing friends because they are useful, but
the locals would. At any rate, it is their problem to solve. They
will have an easier time of it without our CIA protecting the kingpins,
making the criminals richer by insuring a smooth ride along the global
We are most concerned
about the permanent civil strife that drugs have brought to the United
States: the one million men and women of color behind bars, largely
because of drugs; the neighborhoods and entire cities rendered economically
unviable by successive drug plagues; the drug-fueled AIDS crisis;
the narco-based police state tactics that have been routine in African
American communities since long before the World Trade Center was
destroyed; the Black-on-Black crime that has disfigured basic human
relations among our people. The list goes on, endlessly.
This is the terror
that stalks Black America. This is the battle that demands our uncompromising
commitment. We will get nowhere unless we force a change in U.S. foreign
policy. That can only come from the U.S. Congress.
We believe that
the proposed legislation would find allies in unexpected stretches
of the political spectrum. Ours is the moral high ground. Everyone
claims to oppose the drug trade. By now, most honest people on Capitol
Hill realize that U.S. intelligence agencies view narcotics as just
another set of assets to be distributed among allies. Truly patriotic
generals do not want to arm and train narco-regimes, or expose their
troops to the enticements of criminals.
That's why good
soldiers hate the CIA. So do good cops.
The task at hand
is no more difficult than the struggle to pass and enforce the Boland
Amendment twenty years ago. Indeed, the stakes are far more obvious
and immediate to the average American of any ethnicity. The Boland
amendment was designed to stop the CIA and U.S. military from killing
more Nicaraguans. What we are calling for is a halt to CIA and military
complicity in the killing of thousands more Americans.
but pointless regularity, the Bush people issue alerts of impending
attacks against domestic U.S. targets. We are indeed a society at
risk, having made many enemies in the world. Our number one adversary
remains the international drug trade, whose tentacles reach into every
city, town and back road of the nation. It murders us in our homes,
or on the way to the corner store. It lays waste to our cities and
Bush thinks he
can fool or scare us into accepting an even larger role for the CIA
and its criminal cohorts, in a brave new world in which there are
no rules other than executive decision. In this hysterical scenario,
anyone that claims to know where a bin Laden is hiding becomes our
ally, deserving of reward, protection and impunity. All domestic "fallout"
dope money bankers, criminal air forces, corporate mercenaries, all
are welcome to join Bush's mad crusade, their participation guaranteed
by the paymasters of the U.S. intelligence community.
In this kind
of war, We, the People of the United States, can only lose - "Big
Time." As Congresswoman Waters said in Atlanta, it's all happening
"right in front of our eyes."
Craft the legislation,
lawmakers. We will then see who stands where.
We at The Black
Commentator are aware that some will consider our proposal to be well
meant, but ill conceived; that now is not the time to challenge the
Bush national security structure. Quite frankly, we do not respect
We have only
one answer to those who are willing to allow U.S. intelligence agencies
one more chance to destroy yet another generation, or who counsel
that we hold our noses and close ranks with narco-regimes during this
time of crisis: Shut up. You have lost the moral right to ever mention
the subject of drugs again.
If we can't take
the CIA and the American military out of drugs, we can't get drugs
out of America.
Commentator applauds the legislative efforts of U.S. Representatives
John Conyers (D-MI), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL) and others to curtail
the use of corporate mercenaries in Colombia. In our next issue, we
will examine the frightening and disastrous spread of mercenary armies.
Shrinking List of Drug Trafficking Nations
of current congressional oversight of U.S. international drug policy
is apparent in the Bush Administration's cavalier disdain for even
listing the world's most serious trafficking nations. Congress
mandated sanctions, including loss of U.S. aid, against offenders
that fail to rein in their illegal drug exports and trans-shipments.
Last year, 23 nations faced potential penalties:
Burma, the Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic,
Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nigeria,
Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Thailand, Venezuela, Vietnam.
The list might
as well have been written in disappearing ink. Doubtless in the spirit
of international good feeling and pleasant diplomacy, Bush's people
erased 20 countries from the roster, certifying that the regimes had
made "progress" in the quest for a drug free planet. That
left Afghanistan, Burma and Haiti.
Afghanistan were waived, on the grounds that they might impede humanitarian
aid (!), and Haiti was removed from the list due to its extreme poverty.
(Or, possibly to compensate for the years that the U.S. has withheld
promised assistance to the Haitian government, peeved at its refusal
to grovel before Washington.)
That leaves Burma,
which has no diplomatic and very little trade relations with the U.S.
and cannot, therefore, be effectively sanctioned.
Thus, the Bush
administration makes not even a pretense of having an international
drug trafficking policy, while demonstrating that it holds the U.S.
Congress in utter contempt.
that contributed to this commentary.
The Politics of
Heroin in Southeast Asia, McCoy, 1972
Drugs, armies and the CIA in Central America, Scott and Marshall,
University of California Press, 1991
and the CIA, Center for International Policy's Intelligence Reform
Project, Dirksen Senate Office Building, November 26, 1996
Like It Is, WABC-TV,
New York, February, 2002
BBC online, February
reading: Taliban, Ahmed Rashid, Yale University Press, 2000