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WIP4 uPPort ed “investigations failed to prove that the CIA condoned or even knew about” contra drug trafficking. Kurtz’s attack was a preamble to a full-scale assault two days later. On October 4, the Post ran a 5,000-word attack by Robert Suro and Walter Pincus; also a 1,500-word essay on black conspiracy mongering by Michael Fletcher; also a sidebar by Pincus on the history of “drug allegations” against the CIA; also a 1,000-word piece in the style section by Donna Britt, essentially about black paranoia. The Suro/Pincus piece was a curious and in many ways comical attempt at demolition of Webb’s story, adopting the hallowed technique of avoiding the overall thrust of a reporter’s assertions, while concentrating with manic intensity on some particular facet. Thus Suro and Pincus devoted many paragraphs to Webb’s claim that contra drug trafficking played a crucial role in the evolution of the crack epidemic in the U.S. Challenging the Mercury New’s phrase that Nicaraguan trafficker Danilo Blandon was “the Johnny Appleseed of crack in California,” Suro and Pincus wrote that “Blandon’s own accounts and law enforcement estimates say Blandon handled a total of only about five tons As a demolition job, this leaves much to be desired. Imagine if the Post had been dealing with a claim by Mayor Marion Barry that, during his term, “only 10,000 pounds of crack had been handled by traffickers in the blocks surrounding his offices.” Concentrating their fire on Blandon’s precise stature as a drug czar, Suro and Pincus had very little to say about the CIA’s actual role, beyond endless condescension about wild claims made by paranoid rumor mongers. Suro and Pincus attacked Webb’s journalistic integrity by asserting that he had planted questions for an attorney to ask Blandon in a drug case. \(Webb tells us he thought it was the only way of getown credentials merit at least a passing word. Back in 1968, when stories about the CIA’s penetration of the National Student Association had been broken by Ramparts, Pincus wrote a rather solemn expos of himself in the Post, detailing in a somberly confessional style how the Agency had sponsored three trips for him: to Vienna, Accra, and New Delhi, where he had acted as an observer at conferences. It was clearly an apprenticeship, in which as he well knewPincus was being assessed as officer material. He evidently made a good enough impression because the CIA asked him to work further. Pincus says he declined. So the Mercury News would have been entitled to scoff at the attack on their work, written in part by a former CIA asset. DECEMBER 6, 1996 In their eagerness to play up their trail-blazing expos, Webb and the Mercury News did themselves a disservice, by failing to mention the numerous investigations over the past decade detailing the CIA’s role in drug smuggling throughout Central America. Indeed, from the earliest days of the Agency, there has been a perfectly understandable alliance with drug smugglers, whether in Sicily or Southeast Asia or Afghanistan. The CIA needs local criminals for its purposes. Criminal associations market drugs. Drug money is hard to trace. All of these are vital building blocks for an outfit like the CIA. The story has been vividly and meticulously documented in such works as Alfred McCoy’s The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia. There were no vague hypotheses or nebulous conspiracy-mongering in McCoy’s work. With risks to himself far greater than anything ever experienced by Pincus, McCoy got names, dates, and places. In the case of Central America and specifically Nicaragua, there has been similar careful documentation about the role of the Agency. Among the relevant work here: Brian Barger and Robert Parry’s Associated Press piece published in the Washington Post \(it was a documentary and then book Out of Control, published in 1987, and Senator John Kerry’s hearings in his Foreign Relations subcommittee from 1987 to 1989, which were followed by two major reports. Among the salient findings of these investigations: When the CIA followed President Carter’s orders in 1979 and 1980 to subvert the infant Sandinista regime, it turned first to Argentinean military torturers, to form the core of what became the contra force, and also to Cuban exiles, who were already involved in drug smuggling. When Congress limited financial assistance to the contras to “humanitarian aid,” Reagan’ s operativeOliver Northset up an entity inside the State Department, known as the Nicaraguan Humanitarian Assistance Organization. This outfit lavishly funded four companies to supply “humanitarian” assistance to the contras. Each of these companies was operated by known narco-traffickers. The person in charge of this operation was Ambassador Robert Duemling. Duemling told Leslie Cockburn on the record that the names of the four companiesVortex, Setco Air, DIACSA, and Frigorfficos de Puntarenashad been given to him by the CIA. General Paul Gorman, head of the U.S. Army’s Southern Com mand, told the Kerry Committee that he was aware of rampant drug See “Contras,” page 25 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17 THE CIA NEEDS LOCAL CRIMINALS FOR ITS PURPOSES. CRIMINAL ASSOCIATIONS MARKET DRUGS. DRUG MONEY IS HARD TO TRACE. ALL OF THESE ARE VITAL BUILDING BLOCKS FOR AN OUTFIT LIKE THE CIA. re f ra, Poti Iitek 4 3 t ride .111,..”.,04. y