I must begin with a huge apology to the many people who claimed that our own Federal government was behind injecting drugs into our inner-city communities! I was one of those incredulous people who maintained, despite ongoing outcries, that our government would never do such a thing!
I remember when Congresswoman Maxine Waters held a rally back in the ‘90s that accused the government of a conspiracy to destroy the Black community through creating a drug climate and drug dependency. It was asserted that providing a young person with $5 worth of cocaine, for free, would lead to addictions almost impossible to overcome. Too often these young people were set on a life of crime in order to satiate their unrelenting drug cravings. The belief was that the government was trying to destroy the Black community from within (having not been able to accomplish this through centuries of slavery and the unimaginable syphilis experiments).
Then the leader of the Los Angeles Chapter of the NAACP was quoted as saying, “It is time for the government, the CIA, to come forward and accept responsibility for destroying human lives.”
For me and countless others, these “outrageous” claims seemed just too fantastic to which any credence could be given.
It was about this time, however, that Gary Webb, a journalist for the San Jose Mercury News, wrote a series called ”Dark Alliance.” The recent movie, Kill the Messenger (based upon his life and research), presents a dismal picture of the “real” story behind the Iran-Contra, Drugs for Arms scenario. According to his own writings and the film, he investigated (as thoroughly as he was allowed) the connection between the government’s goal to free hostages held in Iran and its need to bring in bushels-full of covert money to arm the Contras against a Nicaraguan government which it did not support because of its Sandinista communist leanings.
In fact, I was in Nicaragua about this time with Habitat for Humanity and got, through our many interviews with government and NGO leaders, an entirely different picture of what was transpiring there. Under Daniel Ortega, the country’s president, literacy had risen to 88% (higher than our own), college was offered for free to anyone who would dedicate four years (post-graduation) in helping to ameliorate a variety of conditions. Technology was enhanced and farmers could use state-of-the-art equipment to work their fields.
All this pertained until the American government began establishing a Contra resistance whose aim was to overthrow the successful Nicaraguan Ortega government. Thus, much of our money had to be re-allocated to support the Contras, diverting funding from more important citizen needs at home. Ultimately, because of embargos created by the Reagan administration, Nicaraguans could not obtain replacement parts for cars or tractors and other necessities. The land became littered with rusty, useless vehicles that were abandoned because operators were no longer able to keep them in working order.
And why? Because the college-educated Nicaraguan leadership adhered to a pure communist philosophy? Because its leaders supported education and healthcare for all (sound familiar)? Because they wanted to repair and rebuild their infrastructure, particularly after suffering the consequences of a horrendous earthquake?
I have in my possession a video produced decades ago which addresses these issues. The film was made available to very few people, but somehow (I forget how it happened) I was able to obtain one of them. It is called Cover Up (produced in 1988) and is absolutely remarkable for what it purports. If you can get one, you must see it for yourselves!
It seems that the National Security Agency, the NSA created a “shadow government” under the guise of advancing national security interests. In 1987 the Iran-Contra Hearings were held and produced a lengthy document of its findings. At first Reagan denied any knowledge of the arms-for-hostages accusation but a year later stepped back a little on that response.
The fact is that we sent arms (at marked-up prices) to Iran (to help them fight their then-enemy, Iraq). The profits were used by the CIA to arm the Contras against Nicaragua. Oliver North denied the allegations but it was later learned that the government shredded documents or altered them to keep the truth from coming out. On top of everything else, there were those who clearly wanted to eliminate the paper trail (the documents were compromising) .
It was claimed that Reagan made a deal with Iran to free the hostages only after the election (the failure to rescue our hostages had been extremely damaging to Carter) and, thus, on the very day Reagan was inaugurated, the hostages were “miraculously” released.
The documentary goes on to state that such covert actions are simply not democratic. The fact is that our government over many years has been responsible, at least in part, for the overthrow of Iran, Guatemala, Brazil, and Ghana (generally for oil-related reasons—we wanted to have control over how we obtained our own oil resources).
This film further claims that, over a considerable span of time, we also had a hand in the overthrow of other governments whose leadership aims did not align with our own and were not necessarily sympathetic with Western values: Greece, Egypt, Korea, Laos, Zaire, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Chile, Thailand, and Viet Nam (what we did there led to a war that took almost 60,000 soldiers from us and left countless warriors to fend for themselves after returning stateside—often resulting in interminable homelessness on the streets).
Abroad, threats were made and sometimes acted upon to force people to join rebel forces or be killed. Bombs were dropped in some areas which killed recalcitrant leaders who did not want to comply with the demands of these covert American forces. The documentary also asserts that the CIA worked with organized crime to form networks to support the CIA itself. For Reagan, the ends justified the means!
It is unbelievable that in 1984 the Readiness Exercise 1984 Act (Rex 84) under the Emergency Management Agency (which later became FEMA) actually considered suspending the U. S. Constitution under the guise of an emergency declaration. Why, you ask? To suppress political descent (think of the concurrent Civil Rights and Viet Nam protests of the ‘60s and ‘70s), to label opponents as terrorists, to make FEMA the anti-terrorism instrument!
There was actual consideration to create internment camps (the way we did with the Japanese-Americans during World War II) for people suspected of anti-American sentiment (think of McCarthyism). It even considered rounding up the half million undocumented that were in the country at the time.
Money was raised from off-shore accounts to be funneled into campaigns to defeat liberal candidates—people like George McGovern, Birch Bayh, and Frank Church who had been questioning what was transpiring under the CIA umbrella. Congress at the time was unwilling to investigate these issues for fear that such research would lead to culpability all the way up to the top—that meant the possibility of Reagan’s involvement.
We waged dirty wars under approved covert actions. Many leaders were assassinated. I think of the socialist Salvador (the savior) Allende, President of Chile, who stood for raising up the common man over the demands of the industrial complex. And who did Chile get after Allende was assassinated? The thug, Augosto Pinochet! It seems (as an important part of these schemes) that these secret organizations pilfered arms out of Viet Nam to support those rebels who would work to overturn governments that did not support U. S. foreign policy.
What a circle of inconceivable horror. The corollary to all of this subversion taught these rebel groups how to destabilize governments by making their point through the use of torture, rape, and murder.
The list goes on and on: support for Anastasio Somoza of Nicaragua and Muammar Gaddafi (spelling varies) of Libya to name just two more. Cover Up further claims that former supporters of Somoza were trained in Honduras to overthrow the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Some of the money that was covertly supplied to the rebels was supposed to feed and clothe the soldiers. The reality? Money was stolen for other questionable purposes which resulted in Contra soldiers often living on only one meal a day. A great way to make enemies of your friends!
What a circle of inconceivable horror. The corollary to all of this subversion taught these rebel groups how to destabilize governments by making their point through the use of torture, rape, and murder. The long-term consequences for us and many other Western nations? We find ourselves today muddled and struggling in some capacity with Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, Syria, and more.
But what of the cocaine conspiracy? Despite government denial by such people as Oliver North, drug-trafficking became a reality with a perverse purpose. Arms were sent through Florida to Honduras and Costa Rica (where I once studied), the latter nation still very unhappy with the repeated, persistent, and generally unwanted interference by the U. S. Think also of the Banana Republics (not the clothing store chain) that were formed for U. S. commercial profit. Drugs were then sent into certain American communities, especially into San Francisco and Los Angeles. It seems (unbeknownst to most Americans and under the guise of preventing the Communist domino theory) that the war in Viet Nam was also prompted by a drug connection with opium growers in Cambodia and Laos.
It is ironic that so many of the very nations that we helped overthrow have become among the strongest economies in the world and our rivals!
The result of all those secretive machinations was that 4-5 million people back in the ‘80s (far more today) were hooked on cocaine here in our country. What is worse, even now, is that when the poorer inner-city addicts get arrested for possession of rock/crack cocaine, they are often given a sentence of at least 3 years in prison while the wealthier “consumer” who is caught with powder cocaine may get only 3 months.
Drug cartels which produced billionaires were often in cahoots with governments from a variety of nations to allow the creation and expansion of drug commerce (or look the other way). Years ago it was proven that millions of dollars from the drug industry had been secreted in Swiss bank accounts (under the auspices of shadow government leaders). Just consider the billions that have been made (since then) off the backs of naïve, often inner-city young people who were duped into taking that first hit and subsequently became mercilessly addicted.
Why do our government and others continue to underwrite the drug industry? For power over other nations or over our own communities? For oil (to perpetuate the myopic needs of dirty energy producers)? To force other countries to be refashioned in our own image? To control what information is disseminated to the public?
I know all this is mind-boggling—too baffling, too complicated, too overwhelming, too inconceivable to consider, let alone believe.
However, I lay out the facts as I see them, as I objectively researched this broad, all-encompassing issue. When I first heard many of these claims some years ago, I dismissed them as being too incredible. Statements made by people with an agenda, I thought. Blacks killing Blacks—a “natural” part of inner-city life. I am so embarrassed by my perceptions then. I hope to be forgiven by those whom I judged harshly and did not believe.
I see all this in a different light now. I pity the many DEA officers who have been wounded or killed in an effort to make the War on Drugs succeed. I feel for the ones who survived their missions to live forever in a nightmare. I feel even worse for all the victims of the efforts by the “shadow government” to introduce hard drugs into communities for profit and control.
The fact is that we must deal with the consequences. For one, passing Proposition 47 would decriminalize many minor drug “crimes.” We must insist that the “least of us” be given the same attention and concern as the rest of us take for granted. We must address the reality of what transpires within and/or near our own communities, regardless of the causes. The War on Drugs, as it is presently being waged, has not been fruitful. We must revamp our current laws and commit to working with people from cradle to grave to put and keep every person on a healthy path forward.
We cannot change history and whether you believe what I have stated here or not, it is still up to us to make the decisions that will reverse the harms perpetrated on too many unsuspecting people.
We must offer hope to the hopeless who often turn to drugs to dull the fears and anxieties they face every day. We must create safe and welcoming neighborhoods, offer alternatives for dysfunctional families, provide ways for people to feel useful, needed, wanted, and loved. Only in that way will we win the War on Drugs—but on our own terms!