out, 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
main 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
heroin 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
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
they will continue, unless the U.S. Congress stops them.
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 compromise.
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"
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
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?
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.
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."
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!")
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 "fallout."
Yemen 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.
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.
our own people, neighborhoods and institutions will sicken and die,
"fallout" victims in far greater numbers than perished
at the World Trade Center.
Politics of Death
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.
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.
in 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 to pay.
of the crack wars at home piled up in appalling numbers, "collateral
damage" in Reagan's jihad against left wing Latin American
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.
CIA protects its own, leaving the U.S. population naked to narcotics
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.
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
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.
work 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.
Clinton's 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.)
respite is about to end.
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.
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 CIA works.
"fallout" 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 our judgment.
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.
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.
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
necessary legislation would have the following effect:
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.
targeted 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
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
is no mystery here. Those who call the situation "complicated"
are either spreading confusion or confused themselves.
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 terrorists.
position 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.
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
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.
South Africa Analogy
U.S. 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
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.
Africa 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
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! More "fallout."
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.
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.
must separate these Siamese twins. At least one of them, the foreign
sibling, might very well die.
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.)
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.
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.
corporations 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 lords.
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
proposal would flip the script. The consequences of maintaining
a narco-economy might prove fatal.
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 drug highways.
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.
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.
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.
why good soldiers hate the CIA. So do good cops.
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
military from killing more Nicaraguans. What we are calling for
is a halt to CIA and military complicity in the killing of thousands
maddening 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 our dreams.
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" is acceptable.
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.
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."
the legislation, lawmakers. We will then see who stands where.
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 that position.
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.
we can't take the CIA and the American military out of drugs, we
can't get drugs out of America.
Black 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
THERE WAS ONE
Incredible Shrinking List of Drug Trafficking Nations
futility 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,
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.
against 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.)
leaves Burma, which has no diplomatic and very little trade relations
with the U.S. and cannot, therefore, be effectively sanctioned.
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.
Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, McCoy, 1972
Politics: Drugs, armies and the CIA in Central America, Scott and
Marshall, University of California Press, 1991
Impunity and the CIA, Center for International Policy's Intelligence
Reform Project, Dirksen Senate Office Building, November 26, 1996
It Is, WABC-TV, New York, February, 2002
online, February 25, 2002
recommended reading: Taliban, Ahmed Rashid, Yale University Press,