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THE EVIDENCE OF A CLANDESTINE PROGRAM THAT COUNTENANCED THE IMPORT OF DRUGS TO FURTHER POLITICAL AGENDAS IS OVERWHELMING, OFFICIALLY, ANECDOTALLY, AND STATISTICALLY. the ranch has an airstrip. In October of 1983, a load of ammunition was onloaded on that airstrip that he owns.” On March 16, 1987, U.S. Customs seized a plane from a narcotics trafficker who was involved with the contras. On that plane they discovered the address book of Robert Owen, Oliver North’s eyes and ears in Central America. Owen, a former aide to Dan Quayle, met with Costa Rican-based CIA asset John Hull and Oliver North on many occasions. In March of 1989, Costa Rican President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias barred Oliver North, John Poindexter, Major General Richard Secord, former U.S. Ambassador Louis Tambs, and former CIA Costa Rican Station Chief Jose Hernandez from entry into Costa Rica. Arias was acting on recommendations by a Costa Rican congressional commission investigating drug trafficking. The Costa Rican investigation was triggered by “the quantity and frequency of the shipment of drugs that passed through” land and secret airstrips controlled by “southern front” CIA point man John Hull. Hull worked extensively with North in setting up the “Contra 7” front in Costa Rica. In his notebooks, North talked about “the necessity of giving Mr. Hull protection.” According to the Costa Rican investigation, and supported by other North entries and Blum’s testimony, more than a half dozen drug pilots were provided by General Manuel Noriega, in response to requests from North. According to the Costa Rican congressional commission, “these requests for contra help were initiated by Col. North to Gen. Noriega. They opened a gate so their henchmen could utilize Costa Rica for trafficking in arms and drugs.” Hull would later be indicted by the Costa Rican attorney general on drug trafficking charges, and ultimately smuggled out of the country by a DEA agent. According to North’s notebooks, he met with Noriega twice during a time when the U.S. government had documented evidence that General Noriega was involved in the Columbian drug trade. ECHOES OF AN ERROR Testifying in the same room where the Kerry committee hearings were held a decade ago, Blum echoed Wanda Palacio’s observationthat law enforcement and other officials looked the other way when the CIA-backed contras were involved in drug operations. “What is true is the policy makers absolutely closed their eyes to the criminal behavior of our allies and supporters in that war. The policymakers ignored their drug dealing, their stealing, and their human rights violations,” said Blum. “The policy makers, and I stress policy makers, allowed them to compensate themselves for helping us in that war, by remaining silent in the face of their impropriety, and by quietly undercutting law enforcement and human rights agencies that might have caused them difficulty.” During the heyday of the CIA-contra-cocaine connection, between the passage and repeal of the Boland Amendment, in 1986, every market indicator of the cocaine glut in America went offscale. As Palacio observed in 1986, “Three years ago [before Boland], the price of cocaine was $50,000 per kilo. Today it is $20,000 and sometimes you can get it for $15,000 to $18,000. The market for the cocaine isn’t smaller, so the lower price is a result of having supply increase even more than demand has.” Something happened during the contra period in the Americas, and the evidence of a clandestine program that countenanced the import of drugs to further political agendas is overwhelming, officially, anecdotally, and statistically. Today the CIA is rightfully being called on to answer the excellent questions raised by the recent “Dark Alliance” investigative series in the San Jose Mercury News. But we would be foolish to believe the agency was alone in its operations, or that the consequences of a decade of covert drugenabling policy began or ends in the crack-infested neighborhoods of Los Angeles. An entire generation of Americans has been introduced to drug use, major elements of our government have been diverted from ethical and legal behavior, and it will likely take the United States longer to recover from the crack connection than for Nicaragua to recover from the contra war. We have, in effect, overthrown our own highest ideals. El A look at attempts to discredit the recent San Jose Mercury News investigative series, which documents how contra leaders moved cocaine into Los Angeles, appears in the next issue, in Part II. Robert Knight was a founding producer, along with Dennis Bernstein, of the “Contragate/Undercurrents” investigative news program. Dennis Bernstein is the host-producer of a daily public radio news magazine in the San Francisco area. Knight and Bernstein won The Jesse Meriton White Award for International Reporting and the National Federation of Community Broadcasting award for the reporting on the Iran-Contra affair. Join sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, at the Texas Civil Fights Project’s sixth Annual bill of Ii hts Dinner. Wednesday, December 11 ; 7:30 p.m. Sheraton Hotel, Austin for tickets or information, call Carlotta Vann or bandy Conrad at 512/474-4073 12 THE TEXAS OBSERVER NOVEMBER 22, 1996