Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Gates, Negroponte: Dirty hands in drug traffic

The recent appointment of Robert Gates Sr. as Secretary of Defense, and today's announcement that John Negroponte will move from head of national intelligence to become No. 2 at the State Department, offer no hope of a cleanup in the Afghan heroin scandal.

Both Gates and Negroponte were involved in the Reagan-era Iran-Contra affair. Source. Part of that sordid scheme was reported CIA support of cocaine gangs in Honduras and Nicaragua to finance the anti-government "Contra" death squads. Wikipedia currently says:

Senator John Kerry's 1988 U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations report on Contra drug links concluded that "senior U.S. policy makers were not immune to the idea that drug money was a perfect solution to the Contras' funding problems."[37] Kerry was suspicious of North's connection with Manuel Noriega, Panama's drug baron. According to the National Security Archive, Oliver North had been in contact with Noriega and had met him personally.

In 1992 U.S. President George H.W. Bush pardoned persons involved in the scandal.[38]

The allegations resurfaced in 1996 when journalist Gary Webb published reports in the San Jose Mercury News[39], and later in his book Dark Alliance[40], detailing how Contras had distributed crack cocaine into Los Angeles to fund weapons purchases. These reports were initially attacked by various other newspapers, which attempted to debunk the link, citing official reports that apparently cleared the CIA.

In 1998, CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz published a two-volume report[41] that substantiated many of Webb's claims, and described how 50 Contras and drug traffickers had been protected from law enforcement activity by the Reagan-Bush administration, and documented a cover-up of evidence relating to these activities. The report also showed that Oliver North and the NSC were aware of these activities. A report later that same year by the Justice Department Inspector General Michael Bromwich also came to similar conclusions.

In 2004, Gary Webb allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself twice in the head. Source, and more.

The current Afghan heroin scandal -- with high-potency low-priced heroin produced in Afghanistan under U.S. and British protection flooding the European and U.S. markets -- calls for a thorough house cleaning at the top of the U.S. intelligence, military, diplomatic, and political establishments. The appointments of Gates and Negroponte say: don't hold your breath.

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