July 12, 2000, Peter Dale Scott
"PLEASE HELP STOP
CONGRESSWOMAN PELOSI FROM KILLING THE CIA-DRUG STORY"
Berkeley - In May 2000, Congresswoman Nancy
Pelosi, a liberal Democrat, participated in a shameless
attempt to stop public interest in the CIAŐs use and protection
of drug-traffickers supporting the Nicaraguan Contras.
If you did not know this, please read the attached op-ed
and analysis of a Report released in May by the House Permanent
Select Committee (HPSCI), on which she serves.
If you agree that she should now repudiate
the Report, please let her know. As this is written,
in July 2000, the U.S. is drifting into a protracted war
in Colombia, a war all too like the Vietnam War in its early
stages. Rep. Pelosi herself recently warned that ClintonŐs
$1.6 billion aid plan will lead the United States into "a
five- to 10-year commitment, which will cost U.S. taxpayers
in excess of $5 billion." Many observers envisage a much
more costly scenario, not only in dollars but in lives.
Congresswoman Pelosi needs to be persuaded
that it is thus a matter of life and death to undermine
the ideological underpinnings of this so-called War on Drugs.
One of the best ways to do this is to expose, rather than
dishonestly bury, the CIAŐs recurring habit of allying itself
The HPSCI Report is a dishonest piece of propaganda,
transmitting lies easily disproven. It purports to be based
on two earlier investigative reports by CIA Inspector-General
Frederick Hitz. However, compared to it, the Hitz reports
are relatively candid, casting needed light on the CIA-drug
problem which Pelosi herself has deemed to be important.
Pelosi may not have realized all this when she let the Report
be released without dissent.
But what will she do now? Will she represent
the needs of the CIA or of her electorate? If the latter,
how will she challenge the cover-up she signed on to?
Will Pelosi repudiate the HPSCI Report?
Will Pelosi press for an open hearing on the
second Hitz Report, something originally promised by the
Committee but never provided?
Will Pelosi press for a fuller release of
Hitz II? As released in redacted form, Hitz II has only
one page on Southern Air Transport, a former CIA proprietary
which was in the DEA database for suspected smuggling?
Many have suspected a major scandal here which the CIA is
still trying to hide.
Was Pelosi aware that John Millis, HPSCI chief
of staff when the CommitteeŐs report was prepared and released,
was a CIA veteran who for thirteen years worked with and
supplied the heroin-smuggling mujahedeen in Afghanistan?
(At least one of the suspect airlines supplying these mujahedeen,
Global International, was also involved in Iran-Contra.)
If Pelosi was aware of this conflict of interest,
will she apologize? If not, will she expose Chairman
Porter Goss, another CIA veteran, for so brazenly putting
the interests of the CIA ahead of those of Congress and
the American people?
Up to now, Nancy Pelosi and her Washington
and San Francisco offices have refused to answer repeated
phone calls and FAXes on this question. This is where you
can make a difference, whether or not you are a voter in
her Eighth District in San Francisco. Please contact her
and let her know your concern, preferably in your own words.
She can be reached by email at email@example.com
Her office phone numbers are (415) 556-4862 (San Francisco)
or, preferably (202) 225-4965 (Washington).
Peter Dale Scott, Ph.D.
University of California
[Following is an editorial written by Peter
in response to the House Intelligence Committee's actions
of May 12, 2000]
What Will Congress Do About New CIA-Drug Revelations?
Peter Dale Scott
Monday, June 19, 2000 San Francisco
CONGRESS WILL shortly have to decide whether
to bury or deal with explosive new revelations that the
Central Intelligence Agency protected major drug traffickers
who aided the Contra army in Central America. These new
findings go far beyond the original stories which gave rise
to them by Gary Webb in 1996.
Webb had alleged that cocaine from two Contra-supporting
traffickers, Norwin Meneses and Danilo Blandon, had helped
fuel the national crack epidemic. The resulting political
firestorm brought promises of a full investigation. After
an unprecedented review of internal CIA and Justice Department
files, three massive reports, totaling almost 1,000 pages,
were released by the inspectors general of the CIA (Fred
Hitz) and Justice Department (Michael Bromwich).
The new revelations confirmed many of WebbŐs
claims. Meneses and Blandon were admitted to have been (despite
previous press denials) "significant traffickers who also
supported, to some extent, the Contras." For years they
escaped prosecution, until after support for the Contras
Meanwhile the reports opened the doors on
worse scandals. According to the reports, the CIA made conscious
use of major traffickers as agents, contractors and assets.
It maintained good relations with Contras it knew to be
working with drug traffickers. It protected traffickers
which the Justice Department was trying to prosecute, sometimes
by suppressing or denying the existence of information.
This protection extended to major Drug Enforcement
Agency targets considered to be among the top smugglers
of cocaine into this country. Perhaps the most egregious
example is that of the Honduran trafficker Juan Ramon Matta
Ballesteros. Matta had been identified by the DEA
in 1985 as the most important member of a consortium moving
a major share (perhaps a third, perhaps more than half)
of all the cocaine from Colombia to the United States. The
DEA also knew that Matta was behind the kidnapping of a
DEA agent in Mexico, Enrique Camarena, who was subsequently
tortured and murdered.
A public enemy? Yes. But Matta was also an
ally of the CIA. MattaŐs airline, SETCO, was recorded in
U.S. files as a drug-smuggling airline. It was also the
chief airline with which the CIA contracted to fly supplies
to the Contra camps in Honduras. When the local DEA office
began to move against Matta in 1983, it was shut down. Though
MattaŐs whereabouts were well- known, the United States
did not arrest and extradite him until 1988, a few days
after Congress ended support for the Contras.
At MattaŐs first drug trial, a U.S. attorney
described him as "on the level of the top 10 Colombian drug
traffickers." We now learn from the CIA Hitz reports that,
in the same year, 1989, CIA officials reported falsely,
in response to an inquiry from Justice, that in CIA files
"There are no records of a SETCO Air." CIA officers appear
also to have lied to HitzŐs investigators about who said
There appears to have been a broad pattern
of withholding information from the Justice Department.
For example, when Justice began to investigate the drug
activities of two Contra supporters, CIA headquarters turned
down proposals that CIA should interview the two men.
The reason in one case was that such documentation would
be "exactly the sort of thing the U.S. AttorneyŐs Office
will be investigating."
The House Committee on Intelligence received
this information, and chose to deny it. According
to a recent committee report, "There is no evidence . .
. that CIA officers . . . ever concealed narcotics trafficking
information or allegations involving the Contras."
Just as dishonestly, the committee found that
"there is unambiguous reporting in the CIA materials reviewed
showing that the Nicaraguan Democratic Force (FDN) leadership
in Nicaragua would not accept drug monies and would remove
from its ranks those who had involvement in drug trafficking."
In fact, the Hitz reports contained a detailed account of
drug-trafficking by members of the main FDN faction, the
September 15th League (ADREN).
Those named included the FDN chief of logistics.
According to the Hitz Reports, "CIA also received allegations
or information concerning drug trafficking by nine Contra-related
individuals in the (FDN) Northern Front." This included
credible information, corroborated elsewhere, against leaders
such as Juan Ramon Rivas, the Northern Army chief of staff.
Yet CIA support for the FDN continued, through a period
when aid to any drug-tainted Contra organization was forbidden
In short, the House Committee Report is a
dishonest coverup of CIA wrong-doings, what one might expect
from a committee chaired and staffed by former CIA officers.
As committee member Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi,
D-S.F., said in a hearing two years ago, "This is an issue
of great concern in our community." Will she, and other
like-minded representatives, repudiate this flimsy attempt
to silence that concern with falsehoods?
The answer may depend on the voters: Will
they object as strongly as before?
(Peter Dale Scott was an expert witness before
the CitizensŐ Commission on U.S. Drug Policy.)