Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press
Alexander Cockburn, Jeffrey St. Clair
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On March 16, 1998, the CIA’s Inspector General, Fred Hitz, finally let?the cat out of the bag in an aside at a Congressional Hearing. Hitz told?the US Reps that the CIA had maintained relationships with companies and?individuals the Agency knew to be involved in the drug business. Even more?astonishingly, Hitz revealed that back in 1982 the CIA had requested and?received from Reagan’s Justice Department clearance not to report any knowledge?it might have of drug-dealing by CIA assets.
With these two admisstions, Hitz definitively sank decades of CIA denials,?many of them under oath to Congress. Hitz’s admissions also made fools of?some of the most prominent names in US journalism, and vindicated investigators?and critics of the Agency, ranging from Al McCoy to Senator John Kerry.
The involvement of the CIA with drug traffickers is a story that has?slouched into the limelight every decade or so since the creation of the?Agency. Most recently, in 1996, the San Jose Mercury News published a sensational?series on the topic, “Dark Alliance”, and then helped destroy?its own reporter, Gary Webb.
In Whiteout, Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair?finally put the whole story together from the earliest days, when the CIA’s?institutional ancestors, the OSS and the Office of Naval Intelligence, cut?a deal with America’s premier gangster and drug trafficker, Lucky Luciano.
They show that many of even the most seemingly outlandish charges leveled?against the Agency have basis in truth. After the San Jose Mercury News?series, for example, outraged black communities charged that the CIA had?undertaken a program, stretching across many years, of experiments on minorities.?Cockburn and St. Clair show how the CIA imported Nazi scientists straight?from their labs at Dachau and Buchenwald and set them to work developing?chemical and biological weapons, tested on black Americans, some of them?in mental hospitals.
Cockburn and St. Clair show how the CIA’s complicity with drug-dealing?criminal gangs was part and parcel of its attacks on labor organizers, whether?on the docks of New York, or of Marseilles and Shanghai. They trace how?the Cold War and counterinsurgency led to an alliance between the Agency?and the vilest of war criminals such as Klaus Barbie, or fanatic heroin?traders like the mujahedin in Afghanistan.
Whiteout is a thrilling history that stretches from Sicily in 1944 to?the killing fields of South-East Asia, to CIA safe houses in Greenwich Village?and San Francisco where CIA men watched Agency-paid prostitutes feed LSD?to unsuspecting clients. We meet Oliver North as he plotted with Manuel?Noriega and Central American gangsters. We travel to little-known airports?in Costa Rica and Arkansas. We hear from drug pilots and accountants from?the Medillin Cocaine Cartel. We learn of DEA agents whose careers were ruined?because they tried to tell the truth.
The CIA, drugs… and the press. Cockburn and St. Clair dissect the shameful?way many American journalists have not only turned a blind eye on the Agency’s?misdeeds, but helped plunge the knife into those who told the real story.
Here at last is the full saga. Fact-packed and fast-paced, Whiteout is? a richly detailed excavation of the CIA’s dirtiest secrets. For all who ?want to know the truth about the Agency this is the book to start with.
controlling the opium and heroin trade, Phao also cornered the country’s gold market, played a leading role on the top twenty corporate boards in the country, charged leading executives and businessmen protection fees and ran prostitution houses and gambling dens. Phao became great friends with Bill Donovan, at that time US ambassador to Thailand. Donovan was so enamored of Phao that he put him up for a Legion of Merit award. This for a man described by one Thai diplomat as “the worst man in the
a federal grand jury. He testified in San Diego that he met with Enrique Bermúdez to discuss this, and Enrique Bermúdez clearly was on the CIA payroll.” Webb may have won that skirmish. But the battle was just beginning. Sources This chapter is largely based on three sources: the “Dark Alliance” stories by Gary Webb and his colleagues at the San Jose Mercury News, Pete Carey, Pamela Kramer, and Thomas Farragher; an extensive interview by the authors with Webb and off-the-record interviews with
told Caffery that “there was an important vote coming up on an appropriations bill to fund the Contras” and that information on Sandinista drug dealing could swing the vote in the administration’s favor. Again Caffery shot down North’s idea. He told the North that release of any information on the Nicaragua flight would jeopardize their investigation of the Medellín cartel and place Seal’s life at risk. But the information was already beginning to leak out as part of the Reagan administration’s
Sterilizers.” In The Golden Age Is in Us. Verso, 1995. Cohen, Richard. “A Racist Past and a Wary Present.” Washington Post, Oct. 27, 1996. Currie, Elliot. Reckoning: Drugs, Cities and the American Future. Hill and Wang, 1983. Davis, Mike. City of Quartz. Verso, 1990. De Benedicts, Don. “How Long Is Too Long?” American Bar Association Journal, vol. 79, 1993. Dominick, Joe. “Police Power: Why No One Can Control the LAPD.” LA Weekly, Feb. 16–22, 1990. Duster, Troy. The Legislation of Morality:
that publication of the Herlands report “might bring harm to the Navy … [and] jeopardize operations of a similar nature in the future.” In a letter to Herlands, Espe wrote: “It would seem inevitable that publication of this Report would inspire a rash of ‘thriller’ stories … Just where imaginative and irresponsible publicists would stop in the search for spicy bits for the public palate is hard to guess. That there is a potential for embarrassment of the Navy is apparent.” Herlands acceded to