CIA "Smoking Files" at COPA '97
by Jim Hargrove
Posted to the CIADRUGS Mailing List 1997-07-23

C I A N A R C O T I C S:
Dr. John Newman Finds Smoking Guns In Federal Files

A sad fact of modern American political life is that our corporate-controlled news media largely refuse to accept or widely report on U.S. government malfeasance until the U.S. government itself officially acknowledges its own misdeeds. Regardless of how many eyewitnesses report secret atomic bomb and human radiation tests on U.S. soil during the Cold War, no matter how many Gulf War veterans report exposure to chemical and/or biological warfare agents in the Desert Storm theater, no matter how many people report USG involvement in promoting and protecting the narcotics trade throughout Central, South, and North America and Asia, and no matter how many eyewitnesses and researchers discover and rediscover that the Warren Commission Report is 100 percent crap, it just ain't official until some U.S. government files are released and the government itself confesses, in its own way.

This is where we now stand on the issue of the CIA's relationship to the Contra cocaine dealers of the 1980s. Despite searing legislative inquiries in the United States and Costa Rica, despite the many drug references in Oliver North's heavily redacted diary, despite eyewitness accounts of DEA agents and many others, the lack of what Dr. John Newman in another context called a "smoking file" has allowed the CIA's apologists to dissemble and misinform virtually at will.

It's a game much like tobacco executives played defending Joe Camel and his ilk: "Well, smoking MAY be unhealthy, but it hasn't been proved -- it's a major controversy." Cha-cha-cha. In a near perfect analogy to the US government situation, Big Tobacco didn't find itself buckled into the hotseat until its own internal documents were released to the public, documents proving executives knew about the addictive qualities of nicotine and the health hazards of smoking.

And now comes former U.S. Army intelligence officer Dr. John Newman (author of the landmark books _JFK and Vietnam_ and _Oswald and the CIA_) who has found the smoking guns (USG file documents) for CIA complicity in the cocaine trade of the 1980s. At the 1997 Coalition on Political Assassinations Conference (COPA '97), Dr. Newman presented his evidence to an audience of fewer than 100 people.

In a report currently online at the JFK assassination research Website called "Fair Play" (, a pseudonymous writer calling himself "Fatback" described Dr. Newman's "barnburner" presentation. Here are a few excerpts from "Fatback's" report:

The issue is grave, and yet the media appear incapable of addressing it. Referring to Walter Pincus' denigration of the threat in the Washington Post, Newman pointed to a government document projected on the screen and said, "I don't understand how you can look at a [CIA] document that has the words in it 'kingpin of narcotics trafficking' and not understand that that's narcotics trafficking." [. . . .]

New information on the earlier contra-cocaine traffic has come out in the trials of participants in California, providing still more detail on the scope and the seriousness of the situation. Prior to the sentencing of Freeway Ricky Ross, the judge sought formal notice from the CIA on its knowledge of contra smuggling. The Agency, through the directorate of operations, responded. (That, Newman observed, was interesting in and of itself. The reply did not originate in the public relations office, but rather, as Newman put it, from the "spook" side of the CIA.) According to the directorate of operations, the CIA conducted 3 internal inquiries in the late 1980s and had uncovered no evidence of contra trafficking.

However, a decade ago, the head of the CIA's Central American task force testified under oath that a great deal was known. DEA documents show that agency conducted two investigations of the L.A. operation between 1983 and 1986. The DEA knew who the participants were, the Florida bank through which the money traveled, and how it was funneled to the contras. In that same interval, the FBI conducted an investigation. And of course, the L.A. sheriff's department conducted the investigation which inadvertently turned up the Agency's involvement. Furthermore, the Kerry investigation "uncovered considerable evidence" that "contras were involved in drug trafficking" and that in each case, "one or another agency of the U.S. government had information regarding the involvement..."

With regard to the L.A. operation, Newman showed a 1984 document which identified one of the smugglers as a member of "the Nicaraguan mafia." The following year, that "kingpin of narcotics" was in Costa Rica using informant status as a cover while continuing to traffic. And if by chance that factoid had somehow escaped the attention of the director of the CIA, he still ought to have known. Newman displayed a memo from the director of the FBI to the director of the CIA which told the whole story and provided all the names. Yet today, a form of institutional Alzheimers has thwarted the CIA's recollection.

Still other DEA documents list specific drug investigations which were terminated because the target was connected to the CIA, and Newman related some examples. In one instance, a DEA fugitive who was a major trafficker was apprehended abroad, but his return to the U.S. was stymied when the prisoner was identified as the subject of CIA surveillance. The U.S. then declined the offer of deportation, and the trafficker was released. In another case, a key heroin trafficker was indicted after more than 20 years of investigation by the DEA. (Do you know how much is invested, Newman asked his audience, in 20 years of investigation? Being assassination researchers, of course they knew. But I digress.) Newman read on:

"Subsequent to obtaining the indictment, it was learned that the trafficker was the principal in a unilateral CIA-coordinated electronic surveillance. The purpose of the surveillance was to identify other possible traffickers. The result...was the immunization of the target trafficker from U.S. prosecution.

Immunization subsequently befell all those "contacted by that principal." In another case, "[s]ubsequent to indictment and arrest, a trafficker agreed to cooperate," providing information on some 20 "top-level international drug traffickers." Prior to indictment, a defense discovery motion turned up CIA electronic surveillance. (Seems like the sort of thing the Agency could have plausibly denied, don't you think?) Plans for indictment of all suspects were dropped. Case closed. Another: A corrupt foreign law enforcement official was allowed to plead to non-drug related charges because he was a CIA informant.

Another: Without DEA knowledge, the CIA used DEA material to blackmail, and thus recruit, the target of a DEA investigation. The recruitment attempt was unsuccessful, but the investigation was nonetheless compromised. In still another case, the DEA found that the CIA had provided "a "foreign-based narcotics trafficker" with "false documentation with which to travel to the United States."

Is that mere knowledge of trafficking, Newman asked? Or is it complicity?

Not everyone agrees with Newman. Walter Pincus maintains there is no evidence that the CIA knew of contra involvement in trafficking. The Washington Post apparently regards the question as merely another instance of black paranoia, and we all know how paranoid blacks are. Otherwise, we should dismiss it as a "liberal" fantasy, since, as we all know, conservatives will never find their children high on cocaine.

Remarkably, a reporter from The Washington Post was present for at least part of Newman's presentation, so John Newman asked him to convey an invitation to Walter Pincus to discuss these documents in some public forum. It seems like a good idea to me. Forget what I think; forget the opinions of Pincus and Newman. Show those documents on nationwide television, and let the public decide.

"Fatback's" final observation above is the main purpose behind this post. LET'S TAKE A LOOK AT THE DOCUMENTS!! The Washington Post and ABC News are not going to show them to us. President Clinton, probably because of Mena, and perhaps because of his own relationship to the CIA, is obviously not interested in pursuing this. Arlen "Magic Bullet" Specter has apparently completed his trivial Senate investigation. Does anyone seriously expect the CIA IG's much-delayed "report" to be anything but BS? It's clearly up to us to report the news for ourselves. I'm doing my best, but I don't have access to the documents.

I urge Dr. Newman and anyone else who has the "smoking" documents presented at COPA '97 to scan them and present them on the Web, or to at least transcribe them and post them on Usenet. There is considerable evidence that vast, multi-billion-dollar CIA shenanigans regarding narcotics are continuing in the 1990s. It's time for everyday folks like us to step up the heat on the government that supposedly represents us. The flow of government-sanctioned narcotics has got to stop!

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