An Analysis of Our Government's Role in Drug Trafficking
American foreign and domestic policy has long been shaped by more than what is reported in the mainstream media. Yet, sometimes events transpire that the mainstream press cannot ignore -- such as the Iran-Contra Affair in the 1980s. The Iran-Contra Affair revealed an intricate web of CIA black ops, arms and drug trading, smuggling, and regime change -- none of which the American people were supposed to know about. In fact, Iran-Contra exposed the vein of hypocrisy that is bulging on the forehead of American politics: the fact that the war on drugs is waged on citizens who are being furnished with drugs by the very government that condemns them. This paper will analyze how Iran-Contra is just one example of the way the American government uses black ops to support hidden agendas (like drug trafficking) to finance larger missions unsupported by the American people.
Fighting the Same Old War Again and Again
As Ryan Dawson (2011) shows, the U.S. has once again gotten itself embroiled in war for the sake of profits in the Middle East. Even after the rationales for invasion have been exploded (there never were any WMDs in Iraq), the U.S. still finds itself with bases all over the Middle East -- and with a new "threat" looming on the horizon. From Afghanistan to Pakistan to Syria, Yemen, Georgia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq -- and now Iran -- American forces have been hard at work to control an area of the world that has long been desired for its oil and drug producing lands. Currently, "terrorism" is the pretext for invasion, but "in reality the U.S. installed a puppet in Afghanistan and the first legislation passed allowed the U.S. with its Saudi partner Bin Laden construction to build long sought after pipelines and re-open the heroin drug trade, important for financing off the books operations in the same manner as Iran-Contra did with cocaine" (Dawson).
At the center of Iran-Contra during the years of the Reagan administration was Oliver North, a Marine Corps officer and member of the National Security Council. The "cocaine-for-guns" scandal that saw weapons going to Iran and the proceeds going to fund Contra rebels in Nicaragua (all off the records) shocked the American people and momentarily woke them up to the reality of the shadow government and the military-industrial complex of which Eisenhower warned the American people in his farewell address from the White House. But, of course, the scandal was white-washed. Still, to understand how and why the U.S. government has become embroiled again and again in such scandals involving drug trafficking (all why condemning the same practice domestically), one must understand the nature of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The Role of the CIA
The history of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is one of covert affairs, foreign invasions, and political and economic coups. Allen Dulles became the first civilian director of the CIA in 1953 after serving lengthy stints abroad in the Near East and Switzerland as a United States diplomat. Tim Weiner (2008) states that Allen Dulles "had an 'Onward, Christian Soldiers' sense of patriotic duty (p. 26). The "duty" part may be correct, but the "Christian" part is unlikely. As head of the CIA from 1953-1961, Dulles was accountable to and for a number of patrons, but Christ was not one of them. Weiner paints a clear picture of the kind of man and the kind of virtues he possessed: "By virtue of his carefully cultivated reputation as an American master spy, built as the OSS chief in Switzerland, he was regarded by the Republican leadership as the director of central intelligence in exile" (Weiner, p. 26) -- before obtaining that position in '53. Yet, ironically, his later successor Richard Helms would look back on those days during WWII in Germany and say, "We knew nothing. Our knowledge of what the other side was up to…was nil, or next to it" (Weiner, p. 9). Either Helms was simply lying -- or Dulles was not quite the spy he made everyone think.
Considering the two, the former is probably true. Even before Dulles took office in 1953, he was shaping foreign affairs through the CIA community: "Dulles asked his colleagues at the Princeton Inn to consider how best to destroy Stalin's ability to control his satellite states. He believed that communism could be undone by covert action. The CIA was ready to roll back Russia to its old borders" (Weiner, p.71). This was not isolationism as the American people wanted (and had wanted for more than half a century -- when war propaganda was not making them think differently). This was the work of a shadow government dictating foreign policy without having to answer to the American people. Dulles was running the CIA before even being given the official title to do so. He was ipso facto the real ruler of the U.S. That is exactly what Kennedy would come to find out.
Even more revealing is the way in which Dulles and Helms shaped CIA operations. The CIA was not about diplomacy -- it was about control through whatever means available, as Weiner clearly states: "Richard Helms once said that American intelligence officers were trained to believe that they could not count on a foreign agent 'unless you own him body and soul.' The need for a way to own a man's soul led to the search for mind-control drugs and secret prisons in which to test them. Dulles, Wisner, and Helms were personally responsible for these endeavors" (p. 73). The CIA was every bit as a much of a secret police force as the KGB and the NKVD. In 1952, for example, Dulles was supporting Project Artichoke, "spelling out the agency's four-year effort to test heroin, amphetamines, sleeping pills, the newly discovered LSD, and other 'special techniques in CIA interrogations'" (Weiner, p. 74). Dulles even went so far as to sponsor the MK Ultra program in which "seven prisoners at a federal penitentiary in Kentucky were kept high on LSD for seventy-seven consecutive days" (Weiner, p. 74). The CIA did not limit their tests to convicts, either. The conspiracy to cover-up the Frank Olson death speaks volumes of the way the CIA was beginning to operate -- and this was domestically, to say nothing of foreign matters.
When Helms took over the CIA in the 60s, his mindset was no different than Dulles' had been. The two had, in fact, spent many years together in the field before the War (Weiner, p. 79). Covert operations would be the main mission of the CIA -- off -- the books activities: plans that no one could know about -- least of all the American people: this would be the future of the CIA -- and Dulles spelled it out for Helms: "You remember the conniving and blood-spilling that went on when we were trying to sort things out in 1946? What would Central Intelligence be responsible for? Would there even be a service?' Dulles wanted Helms to understand that as long as he was the director of central intelligence, there was damned well going to be a service devoted to daring, difficult, dangerous missions" (Weiner, p. 79). As Weiner states, the eight years in which Dulles led the CIA was a time of routine deception (of the President of the U.S.) and covert warfare (all of which helped harm the reputation of the CIA) (Weiner, p. 79).
Evidence of Helms' duplicity is not lacking. In 1972, for example, he ordered a cover-up of the MK Ultra project (another drug producing/mind-controlling CIA scheme). In 1977, Sen. Edward Kennedy testified before the Ninety-Fifth Congress following "reports of the abuses of the drug testing program and reports of other previously unknown drug programs and projects for behavioral control" (Joint Hearing, 1977, p. 2). What the Senate Health Subcommittee uncovered, according to Kennedy, was
Chilling testimony about the human experimentation activities of the Central Intelligence Agency. The Deputy Director of the CIA revealed that over 30 universities and institutions were involved in an 'extensive testing and experimentation' which included covert drug tests on unwitting citizens…Several of these tests involved the administration of LSD to 'unwitting subjects in social institutions.' (Joint Hearing, 1977, p. 2)
The death of Dr. Frank Olson in 1953 was one of the early signs of the operation. Richard Helms, director of the CIA, would two decades later consign all records of the Project to the flames. But a deeper probe revealed that the number of universities involved in the experiment was nearly one hundred. Kennedy put the matter bluntly: "The Central Intelligence Agency drugged American citizens without their knowledge or consent. It used university facilities and personnel without their knowledge. It funded leading researchers, often without their knowledge" (Joint Hearing, 1977, p. 3). The question was why?
Drugs, Iran-Contra, Corporate Profits and Today
The answer is simple. The CIA was its own boss and it had…