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Maybe. Maybe not. My colleague Elaine Shannon, who has covered the war on drugs for so long that she knows as much about it as any narc, reports, "Even sources who are routinely skeptical of the official line on the contras agree that the idea that the agency was behind drug smuggling by the contras is fantasy. In the late 1980s the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations spent two years chasing allegations that the CIA had funded the contras with cocaine money. In the end the committee found that the CIA and the contras had, indeed, used a number of traffickers, criminals and brigands to smuggle arms or stand guard at airports. But the committee could not prove that these individuals' freelance criminal activities had been sanctioned, organized or furthered by the intelligence agency, much less that they were all part of an organized scheme to underwrite the contra war."
To settle the issue Los Angeles Congresswoman Maxine Waters is pushing for hearings, and has demanded an explanation from CIA Director John Deutch. He responded in writing that a review of CIA files turned up no proof that the agency had either participated in or condoned drug trafficking by the contras. However, to "dispel any lingering public doubt on the subject," Deutch reiterated last week that he has asked the agency's inspector general to review the Mercury's charges. The Justice Department has also launched a probe.
But if Deutch thinks anyone in black America is going to take the word of those two organizations, he's mistaken. Black Americans have been the targets of so much hostility that many of them would not put it past their own government to finance the war against communism by addicting thousands of people. Conspiracy mongers like Dick Gregory (who was arrested at CIA headquarters a couple of weeks ago trying to give Deutch a copy of the Mercury series) and Lyndon Larouche (who wants to put George Bush on trial as "the crack kingpin of the '80s") are fanning the flames with all their might. For that reason the allegations in the Mercury series need to be investigated by an independent commission with enough credibility that its findings will be believed--and the sooner the better. The charges are too serious to be explored only by spies and the lunatic fringe.