Gary Webb on Dark
The Year the Contras Invaded theUnited States
CIA-Contra-Coke Connection: "The Smoking Pipe"
More Empirical Evidence of the Contra Cocaine Glut
"Dark Compliance" as CIA seal vanishes from SJMN logo
Knight & Bernstein's CIA-contra-cocaine exposés
Dennis Bernstein's Home Page
"Earthwatch" Home Page
Ceppos Retracts, Grouchos Retorts, and Harpos Has 'No Comment'
|Mercury News editor Jerry Ceppos (left) contemplates CIA cocaine retraction with co-editors "Chicos," "Grouchos" and "Harpos" (l. - r.).|
You gotta figure, it had to happen. The San Jose Mercury News has backed off its groundbreaking "Dark Alliance" series on the CIA-crack-cocaine connection.
We saw the writing on the wall late last year, when the
CIA was "disappeared" from the bold logo of the Mercury News series.
Did the "men in black" make a visit to "Mercury"?
SJMN executive editor Jerry Ceppos has now "repudiated" the most salient implication of the series: that there was pervasive collusion, sanctioned at the highest levels, between the Central Intelligence Agency and Central American drug dealers who delivered weapons and clandestinely funded the illegal contra war against Nicaragua with proceeds from the unprecedented levels of sanctioned cocaine importation which resulted in the "crack" epidemic in America.
For observers, participants and journalists who have witnessed the destruction of a generation through the pathology of cascading quantities of cocaine and "crack," it is extraordinarily frustrating to hear the repeated denials of investigators, officials and the agencies which were in a unique position to allow the import of record levels of coke into the United States.
Despite court testimony, congressional investigations, and revelations by whistleblowing officers, pilots police and operatives, the American public is still presented with blanket denials by the likes of Bill Clinton's Attorney General Janet "No evidence" Reno and former DCI John "No substance" Deutch. And now chastized editor Ceppos, who published a significant ground-level analysis of the contra-cocaine connection, has thrown the baby out with the bathwater.
Series author Gary Webb, declared on May 16, 1997 that:
"The only 'shortcoming' in our Dark Alliance series is that it didn't go far enough.
What Mr. Ceppos' column fails to mention is that, as a result of our continuing investigation, we DO have evidence of direct CIA involvement with this Contra drug operation. We have evidence that at least one top CIA official in Washington was aware of the drug ring's activities in El Salvador. We also know that these traffickers were more deeply involved with the U.S. intelligence community than we reported last year.
Perhaps one day Mr. Ceppos will allow us to share this information with the public. "
And yet, editor Ceppos admits that --
"Our series solidly documented disturbing
information: A drug ring associated with the Contras sold large quantities
of cocaine in inner-city Los Angeles in the 1980s at the time of the crack
explosion there. Some of the drug profits from those sales went to the
Given our government's involvement with the Contras, I believe this is a major public policy issue worthy of further investigation."
Looking Into Crack Allegations
-- L.A. Times
Couldn't agree more.
As you will see from some of our publications, my partner Dennis Bernstein and I have spent a decade documenting this self-evident process. There is much more to be said, and it will be said here in the coming days.
So, please read on, bookmark this page, return often, and share your comments as we advance the plot from the anecdotal to the empirical.
Robert Knight -- 5/15/97
You could call it the cocaine war. And 1985 was the the high water mark of the contra invasion, which had air cover and logistical assistance provided by our own clandestine agencies and military facilities.
The effects of the contra invasion were devastating. The National Institute for Drug Abuse called 1985 "the peak year for cocaine prevalence." It was the year that cocaine-related deaths and emergency room visits increased to 29,000, up from 5,000 in 1981.
Why 1985? For a simple reason: That was the height of the restrictions placed on the CIA by the Congress against their direct support for the contras in Nicaragua. The beginnings of the cocaine epidemic of the 1980s can be directly traced to a National Security Council-directed system set up to violate the will of Congress preventing direct CIA or "intelligence agency" aid to the contras.
|This chart shows the reported use of cocaine within the past year by high school seniors during the two-decade
period from 1975 to 1996.
The data is from the "High School Senior Survey," funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and conducted nationwide through the auspices of the University of Michigan.
The blue line is a third-degree polynomial trendline, which reveals the overall pattern of cocaine use, eliminating the anomalous "noise" or unusual phonemena in the data set.
As is evident, there is an "unusual phenomenon" in the (yellow) highlighted part of the dataset. Why is this?
The blue trendline tells us the overall rate of cocaine use in the U.S. was actually decreasing after the heyday of the late 1970s and early 1980s, when Central American instability, including the guerilla war in El Salvador and the 1979 revolution in Nicaragua created a temporarily chaotic environment that allowed regional drug dealers to increase the flow of drugs into North America due to weakened official enforcement facilities.
But even though the United States' rate of cocaine importation -- and consumption -- had been diminishing, the yellow-shaded "anomalies" of 1985, 1986 and 1987 show that something happened during those years to artificially increase cocaine (and "crack") activity in the United States.
The first "Boland Amendment" became law on December 21, 1982. This amendment to the "War Powers Act" delimited the military appropriations budget of fiscal year 1985 as follows:
|"None of the funds provided in this Act may be used by the Central Intelligence Agency or the Department of Defense to furnish military equipment, military training or advice, or other support for military activities, to any group or individual ... for the purpose of overthrowing the government of Nicaragua."|
"Boland I" remained in effect until October 3, 1984, when an
even stronger version, "Boland II," was enacted:
|"During fiscal year 1985, no funds available to the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, or any other agency or entity of the United States involved in intelligence activities may be obligated or expended for the purpose or which would have the effect of supporting, directly or indirectly, military or paramilitary operations in Nicaragua by any nation, group, organization, movement, or individual."|
"Boland II," which held effect until December 5, 1985, was the "straw that broke the camel's back," as far as the Reagan White House, the National Security Council, the CIA, and its clients in the Nicaraguan countryside were concerned.
It was during "Boland II" that an off-the-shelf privatized intelligence network, spearheaded by Lt. Col. Oliver North, operating through the NSC out of a basement of the Executive Office Building, proceeded to make up more than the missing $30 million in contra aid by "privatized" contributions. Those "donations" to the contra "freedom fighters" came from two sources: the clandestine sale of arms in the Middle East (the "Iran-contra" scandal), and the profits from the sale of cocaine which was allowed through intelligence sanctions to be imported into the U.S. to provide millions of dollars, part of which actually did go to the contras (though much of it went to corrupt contra leadership, or was otherwise unaccounted for).
The significance of the Boland aid cutoff to the contras has been the subject of hundreds, if not thousands of first-hand sworn testimonies by members of the movement, who repeatedly confirm the Boland period as a time when contra-cocaine cooperation went into high gear.
The very minute Boland II took effect, the contra-cocaine deals were being made.
"A senior member of Eden Pastora's Sandino Revolutionary Front (FRS) agreed in late 1984 with [George Morales] that FRS pilots would aid in transporting narcotics in exchange for financial assistance.... [Morales] agreed to provide financial support to the FRS, in addition to aircraft and training for FRS pilots. After undergoing flight training, the pilots were to continue to work for the FRS, but would also fly narcotics shipments from South America to sites in Costa Rica and Nicaragua for later transport to the United States. "
"The problem of drug traffickers using the airstrips also used to supply the Contras persisted through 1985 and 1986. By the summer of 1986, it became of significant concern to the U.S. Government officials who were involved in the covert Contra supply operations undertaken during the Boland Amendment period. As then-CIA Station Chief, "Thomas Castillo" testified to the Iran/Contra Committees, U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica Lewis Tambs wanted to place guards on the secret Contra supply airstrip at Santa Elena in Costa Rica, to avoid "having drug traffickers use that site, and this was a continuing concern during the period of June, July and August."
And yet, with such high-level contra-cocaine contacts and communications, the American public is expected to believe there was no high-level knowledge or approval of collusion between the contras, intelligence agencies, and the drug dealers who made the Boland-era cocaine glut possible!
If Boland II (1984-1985) had an obvious correlation to the ensuing cocaine glut of clandestine contra fundraising deals with druglords, shouldn't there be similar evidence for Boland I (1983-1984), when military aid was also cut off?
Indeed there is. . .
||This chart shows the the national incidence of reported cocaine
use in the past thirty days, by age, during the years 1979-1994. The source
is the ongoing "National Household Survey on Drug Abuse," conducted by
the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The graph indicates cocaine exposure among two age groups: Ages 18-25 (red), and ages 26-34 (violet).
The dashed blue line is a third-degree polynomial trendline associated with cocaine use among those aged 18-25. This trendline suggests that youth exposure to cocaine had been on an overall decline, consistent with other national studies, until there was a marked increase in approximately 1982-83.
The "cocaine binge" of the 18-25 year old population did not reapproach the national norm until sometime after 1986. Similarly, the 26-34 year old population endured a "cocaine glut" of its own, doubling in exposure between 1982 and 1985.
These anomalies may be attributed to the increased availability -- and profitability -- of cocaine which occurred during the 1983-85 Boland era, in an improbable deviation from a longer-term declining trend in cocaine use.
The most salient "proximate cause" for these cocaine-glut anomalies is the international policy and enforcement shift which took place from 1982-85, precisely duringThe Boland Amendments, when officials of the NSC and CIA entered into a tactical partnership with drug-dealing "contra" contributors after Congress denied millions of dollars in direct aid.
The CIA has vanished entirely -- from the San Jose Mercury News' "Dark Alliance" web page featuring special coverage of the CIA-contra-crack-cocaine connection.
In August, 1996 the Mercury News published an excellent investigative news series by Gary Webb analyzing the CIA's involvement with Nicaraguan contras, a number of whose anti-Sandinista leaders financed their CIA-sanctioned operations against Nicaragua with proceeds from cocaine smuggled into America's inner cities.
"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," reported the Mercury News.
"This drug network opened the first pipeline between Colombia's cocaine cartels and the black neighborhoods of Los Angeles, a city now known as the crack capital of the world."
The original "Dark Alliance" logo features the grey, smoky silhouette of a crack-pipe suspect framed, as it were, by the circular seal of the Central Intelligence Agency.
But in early October the logo was quietly -- almost too quietly -- changed. Sources at the Mercury News explained to EarthWatch that the original graphic had "drug implications we did not intend to convey."
Thus the CIA emblem just... disappeared, leaving the brother on the pipe "in the cold," out there on his own.
Much like accused gang druglord "Freeway" Rick Ross found himself with a life sentence after a California court rejected the defense that his network bought automatic weapons and sold tons of crack with CIA sanctions provided through his alleged supplier and contra backer, Oscar Blandon.
The CIA's disappearance from the contra-crack logo could be the perfect metaphor for the inability of federal investigators -- including Attorney General Janet "No evidence!" Reno and Director of Central Intelligence John "No substance!" Deutch -- to see what is plainly visible to everyone else in America: that for over a decade, members of the CIA-backed contra network used "national security" sanctions to import tons of crack-cocaine into America's ghettos and suburbs.
Which, in turn, is a perfect metaphor for the strategic alliance implied by the red-white-and-blue colors of the CIA emblem and the American flag. Consider the clandestine brotherhood of three gangs united in secret rituals, violent behavior, and an interest in the drug market share. From Compton, Los Angeles and Yale, you have: Red for the 'Bloods', Blue for the 'Crips', and White for... well, you do the math!
John Deutch IS Jack Nicholson. . .
"You dont deserve the truth. You can't handle the truth!"
Janet Reno IS Butterfly McQueen. . .
"I don't know nothin' about CIA dealin' no crack, Massa Clinton."
"Where the hell is Corporal Hassenfus? I got product to move here!"
And the American press IS "Dumb and Dumber" . . .
"Reporting by The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times produced no clear evidence of any direct link between the drug dealers and the CIA." -- NYT, 5/13/97
IN. . .