Uncle Sam’s secret support for drug barons

The American government, despite its public face of opposition to drug-dealing [Big Pharma and the alcohol and tobacco peddlers aside], has always embraced the biggest dope dealers as tools of foreign policy.

And now, while residents of barrio and ghetto are subjected to draconian prison terms for selling on the streets, folks in the producing countries are once again getting a helping hand from Uncle Sam.

Here’s word of the latest twist from Geraldo Rivera at Fox & Friends, featuring an interview with a military officer in Afghanistan who explains why “We Tolerate The Cultivation Of Opium Poppies.”

Geraldo says American military tolerates cultivation of opium because to export the War on Drugs would be to turn the dwindling number of pro-invasion folks there into armed foes.

He interviews one officer who inadvertently supports local crafts folk by trying to buy up all the wooden opium poppy sap-scrapers. Geraldo notably missed one great interview opportunity: What esnl is certain would be an unintentionally uproarious interview with the bazaar merchants who happily profit from the soldier’s hopeless cause.

Our long history of protecting the big narcotraffickers

But there’s a deeper question here, and that is the way American spooks have always sided with the drug-traffickers because they’re the one group already armed and certain to oppose any government which would hamper the ability to profit from the hungers of American consumers.

During the Vietnam War, Alfred J. McCoy, history professor at the University of Wisconsin, was the first to definitively document Central Intelligence

Agency support for heroin producers in his groundbreaking The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia [updated as The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade].

For an excellent 30 March piece by McCoy on Afghanistan, see this.

Then veteran journalist James Mills expanded the scope of coverage in his seminal The Underground Empire: Where Crime and Governments Embrace, now sadly out of print. [Excerpts here.] Mills extended McCoy’s geographic reach to a global one, looking at the war on drugs through the eyes of frustrated federal drug crops, who inevitably found their efforts stymied by the spooks the higher they extended their enforcement efforts.

The late Gary Webb offered a more narrow but equally sharp focus in Dark Alliance: the CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion.

Webb’s investigation began with the crack cocaine epidemic among Los Angeles’ black community, then traced, step-by-step, the source of the drugs to the L.A. “Contra” community, wealthy Nicaraguans who had fled the Sandinista government of their homeland. For his efforts, Webb was hounded from his job at the San Jose Mercury News and, dispirited, took his own life in 2004.

esnl also looked into the Contra connection, and it’s involvement in an arms-for-cocaine operation centered on an airstrip on a Southern California tribal reservation. Federal law enforcement officers who witnessed the off-loading of drugs and the on-loading of arms told esnl they were ordered to terminate their investigation on national security grounds. So the crack epidemic in Los Angeles exploded, protected by the Reagan White House, the very same institution that was waging a “war on drugs” and telling Americans to “Just Say No.”

A massive amount of new evidence is available from Douglas Valentine’s newly published The Strength of the Pack—The Personalities, Politics and Espionage Intrigues that Shaped the DEA. [Author’s site with purchase link.]

Valentine, a private investigator and gifted journalist, offers a magisterial summation of America’s drug warriors and the corruption of their crusade by the boys from Langley. He raises new questions about George H.W. Bush’s relationship with deposed Panamanian ruler Manuel Noriega, and why he’s being kept from the eyes of the press even thou his prison sentence is over.

But the most devastating accounts are the numerous specific instances when the narcs were eager to make cases, only to be told that top-level traffickers were working with “the agency.”

Next time this blog takes up the theme of spooks and drugs, esnl will explore the C.I.A.s role in the LSD eruption of the 1960s. . .

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