toc.jpg (1739 bytes) home.jpg (1035 bytes)
WB00938_1.GIF (1017 bytes)

Man, the State and Dope
Kent Heiner

Kenneth Waltz, in the political science standby Man, the State and War, analyzes the causes of war. Waltz divides theories on the causes of war into three categories, which he calls "images." The first image of war is that it is caused by the evil nature of certain men or of mankind. The second image points the finger of blame at the nature of individual states. The third image concerns the nature of the international system in which states interact (Waltz, 1954).

Similar to the three images of war, we may propose three images of the causes of failure of the "War on Drugs," paralleling Waltz’s three images: private greed or self-interest, the demands of the state, and the constraints of the international system.

Image One

The first image, or private greed, is certainly the simplest to relate to. People deal drugs because there is money to be made from it. Not surprisingly, this is the prevailing perception of America’s drug economy. Unfortunately, the public does not understand the true size and scope of this economy and therefore cannot guess at how highly organized and institutionalized the drug trade has become. By borrowing some concepts from the study of economics, we are better equipped to understand the drug trade’s potential for corruption.

Political Economy is the study of the interplay between politics and economics. The Liberal approach (Liberal in a classical sense, as opposed to the political left) to political economy is to view the political-economic arena as a free marketplace where all parties can exchange goods and services and compete for advantage. Politicians compete for constituency as well as money and power, and the public competes for access to politicians as well as for economic advantage; thus, government action is seen as the result of competition among politicians and among their constituents (Frieden and Lake, 1991:10). This view is also referred to as "public choice."

The Public Choice school of economics deals with, among other things, the influence of special interest groups on public policy. Many economists are dismayed over the inefficient economic policies implemented by the legislature: price supports, prohibitive tariffs, and so on. Such policies benefit special interests at the expense of the interests of the general public. For an outlay of a few thousand dollars in lobbying costs, special interests such as the automobile industry can buy foreign trade legislation which places high taxes on automobile imports and thus takes millions of dollars from the taxpayer (in the form of high prices) and puts that money in the hands of the industry. Public Choice explains that: 1) individual special interests lobby politicians because it is in their interest to do so; 2) individual citizens do not lobby against the special interests - neither do they organize into groups sufficiently large to combat a particular special interest - because they cannot compete with lobbying firms and it is therefore not in their economic interests to do so; and it therefore follows that 3) lawmakers make these policies because it is in their economic interest to do so. For instance, as economist Todd Buchholz has demonstrated, the cost of contacting one’s representative in Congress to complain about any particular special interest legislation is greater than the cost borne by any individual consumer as a result of that legislation (Buchholz, 1989:241-248). Public Choice shows that price supports and other interferences in free-market activity, however annoying economists may find them, are the result of clear economic incentives resulting from the structure of the political system.

At the same time refining and expanding this concept, we will look specifically the illegal narcotics industry as a special interest and its influence on the government bureaucracy as a whole rather than on legislators only. We intend to show that just as surely as the above-mentioned market forces must necessarily result in bad legislation, the forces of the black market must necessarily create large-scale and high-level corruption.

Public Choice, when considering public policy with regard to the open market, shows that the dominance of special interests over the public interest is a matter of economics and rational choice; the same is true of the black market. The syndicates that control narcotics distribution have an economic imperative to illegally influence the officials charged with enforcing the law; and this influence carries a tremendously high dollar value. On the other hand, the resources devoted by other parties to expose and combat this illegal relationship are comparatively small, at least in terms of their effective use.

This could be because the public does not realize the costs they incur from the failure of public officials to carry out their duty, or possibly because the public feels that the expected rewards of the effort to stamp out corruption will not warrant the costs of that effort. The corruption of government, just like inefficient economic policy, is the result of economic choices made not only by criminals and politicians but the public as well. The public unconsciously demands government corruption by virtue of these facts: 1) there is a public demand for illegal goods and services; 2) there is also a demand for laws against these goods and services; and 3) there is not a clear aggregate demand for the enforcement of these laws.

Conceptually, corruption is not an anomaly in the system of government; it is merely a special case of the general principles set forth by Public Choice. The narcotics industry is not only one of the wealthiest special interests, generating approximately as much revenue (at an estimated $400 billion annually – ponder on that for a moment) as crude oil production; it is particularly vulnerable to government action, as the government holds the sole means of punishing its activity and has the sole discretion of doing so. It is therefore no less likely than one of the interests of the open market to solicit the favors of government. Criminal, as well as legitimate, interests want to have protection from competition and will rely partially on the government for it.

When applying the principles of Public Choice to the regulation of a market, we must focus on those who have the greatest latitude and power in regulating the goods and services in question. In the case of black markets, the law completely forbids activity of this kind rather than constraining it. For this reason, once the law is established, those who enforce the law have more potential influence over market activity than those who created the law. Because the executive branch of government, that which is charged with enforcing the law, is composed of both elected and non-elected officials, we will be considering the motivations of both in our economic model.

This distinction between elected and non-elected government officials is significant in the context of Public Choice because the school often explains official behavior in terms of an official quest to maximize votes, in much the same way that other economic actors seek to maximize money. This motivation is clearly less significant with non-elected officials. However, all actors in the economy seek to maximize an abstract concept called utility, which is not necessarily equivalent to money. Elected officials find utility in votes. Consumers at the supermarket find utility in groceries. Utility is defined by an actor’s interests and priorities.

Rather than focusing on the drive to maximize votes, we should more properly stress the elected official’s drive to maximize a generalized utility - which may at times have money, the near universal means of exchange, as its primary focus. One could demonstrate that money can be parleyed into votes, and vice versa. A political actor is, after all, an economic actor. Particularly when examining the politics of regulating the black market, those political actors who participate improperly in the regulatory process (by aiding and abetting illegal activity) will have money as their primary object.

In the essay, "Invitational Edges of Corruption," Peter K. Manning and Lawrence John Redlinger examine the problems inherent in the regulation of the narcotics market. They begin with a comparison and contrast of licit and illicit markets and the manner in which each is regulated. By way of comparison, they note that both licit and illicit markets "have sellers within them who seek effective control over the manner and type of regulations that will be applied to them." By way of contrast, they note that the intent of regulation in licit markets is to ensure the quality of products and services and to ensure their delivery; the intent of regulation of illicit markets is ostensibly to eliminate the availability of that market’s goods and services (Manning and Redlinger, 1976).

Manning and Redlinger also make the following distinction between licit and licit markets: that in the former, regulators of the market are often chosen from the ranks of the market’s producers and distributors, but in the latter, this is not the case. Reconsidering, they add a footnote that this at least has not been found to be the case in the United States.

This writer contends that sufficient evidence exists to demonstrate otherwise. This essay will demonstrate that some of the officials having the greatest responsibility for the prosecution of drug trafficking are in fact complicit in such activities; high officials tolerating or cooperating with the black market have effectively become competitors in it.

Some - perhaps even most - officials may place moral and ethical considerations at a higher priority than money. But because of the nature of the black market – namely the astronomical amounts of illegal revenue and the resulting high demand for corrupt officials – there will always be some who will provide such illegally demanded services. There is a ready symbiosis between illegal activity and political campaigning: candidates need money – lots of it – and criminal enterprises need political patronage. And, as will be shown directly, the money from those enterprises can be contributed through seemingly legitimate channels.

Making further distinction between the black market and the open market, Manning and Redlinger assert that "Sellers operating in illicit markets do not possess the same credibility of licit sellers and, consequently, they do not have the same type of influence over [the regulation of] their market." This may be true of street-corner dealers, but as shown in many instances, the major vices are often, if not predominantly, financed and organized by citizens of distinction (Chambliss, 1988a, 1971). In fact, money-laundering laws are most effective against those who have no legitimate business to hide such money in; thus, they favor the owners and operators of big businesses, particularly banks. Michael Ruppert’s experience in New Orleans is a perfect illustration of the collaboration of government, business, and "organized crime:" this former police officer saw drugs being brought into the country in a joint venture by the CIA, the military, the Marcello crime family, and the defense and oil-industry contractor Brown and Root (Ruppert, 2000). The biography of Sam Giancana, the famed head of the Chicago "Outfit," shows that this mob leader also cooperated very closely with elements of the CIA; Giancana viewed the mafia and the CIA as two sides of the same coin, both having partnership with big business (Giancana and Giancana, 1992).

Again as a footnote, Manning and Redlinger recognize the possibility that their assertion – that vendors in the black market have diminished influence over market regulation – would not necessarily be true in the case of those who deal heavily in both licit and illicit markets. They also note that "Hypothetically . . . if illicit sellers could effect control over their markets through higher, more powerful channels [than by bribing beat cops], they would attempt to do so."

This essay will show that such influence is indeed sought and obtained at the highest levels of the United States government and that this influence has a far greater effect on national drug policy than popular efforts to either decriminalize drug use or to completely stop the traffic.

Manning and Redlinger, in keeping with their view that narcotics traffickers have diminished influence at the higher levels of enforcement, focus on the ways in which police departments may become compromised by such individuals. The following paragraphs will focus on the influence of the narcotics industry on those higher levels and the "respectable" citizens exercising that influence.

The power of discretion of a prosecuting attorney is a power with a tremendous potential for abuse. From the county prosecutor to the U.S. Attorney, such attorneys are in, as criminologist William Chambliss says, "a central position of influence over criminal activities" because they alone decide whether a criminal allegation or complaint will become a case. Police and federal agents may charge individuals with crimes, and private citizens may complain, but both matters must go through the state’s attorney to ever get to court. Police are required by law to enforce the law; judges generally cannot dismiss a case, though they have great latitude in sentencing; but the prosecutor is almost entirely free from such legal constraints. The Big White Lie by Michael Levine is but one example of many accounts told by frustrated DEA agents who caught high-level dealers red-handed only to see the U.S. Attorney refuse to convene a grand jury and seek an indictment (Levine, 1993). Why do such things happen? Chambliss writes, "Prosecuting attorneys do not achieve that office by being neutral and uninvolved in politics. On the contrary, a [county] prosecuting attorney must be nominated by his party, financed by people with money, supported by newspapers, and helped out in times of crisis by influential citizens. The prosecutor is in a position where he or she virtually controls one of the largest industries in the state" (Chambliss, 1998a:106).

U.S. Attorneys are not elected; they are political appointees. In 1993, when President Bill Clinton took office, all 93 U.S. Attorneys were sacked and replaced (Gigot 1993). Why was this unprecedented move taken? To secure the spoils belonging to control of those offices, including a portion of the profits of the black market. President Kennedy’s appointment of his brother Robert as Attorney General should be considered in this light as well. The Kennedy brothers fought a well-known and all-out war on the criminal interests allied with their political rivals.

Even the Attorney General, the highest official in the Justice Department, is not immune to the influence of the narcotics industry. Three examples will illustrate this point. First, we have a February 11, 1982 Memorandum of Understanding signed by Attorney General William French Smith and addressed to CIA Director William Casey. This MOU excused the CIA in advance from having to report drug smuggling activity on the part of any part-time or contract employees (Central Intelligence Agency, 1998). That this memo served a sinister purpose cannot be doubted in light of the trafficking which the CIA overlooked and even actively participated in during the contra war. Second, IRS investigator Bill Duncan testified in 1988 to the House Subcommittee on Crime that money in a bank account belonging to Attorney General Edwin Meese III had been traced to Barry Seal, an agent of both the CIA and DEA and a legend among drug traffickers. Money from this same source was traced to several FBI, Customs, FAA, and DEA officials. Ed Meese is known to have interfered in the prosecution of CIA-related drug smuggling cases in this period. Bill Duncan resigned from the IRS in 1989 under pressure to commit perjury (Reed and Cummings, 1994:286; Brewton, 1992). Thirdly, Terry Reed, a contract employee of the CIA working with Seal and Oliver North in the mid-1980s, was a first-hand witness of future Attorney General William P. Barr’s involvement in a multi-faceted CIA operation including such crimes as drug smuggling, money-laundering, gun-running, and violations of the Neutrality Act on behalf of the Contras. This operation was staged in Bill Clinton’s Arkansas and had the governor’s knowledge and consent (Reed and Cummings, 1994:268-279).

William Chambliss, as noted above, demonstrates the symbiosis occurring at the municipal level between government, large businesses, and criminal enterprise. He rejects as misleading the perception of organized crime as an institution existing apart from society at large. Other social scientists have noted the inseparability of organized crime and legitimate social institutions. Gary W. Potter, professor of Criminal Justice and Police Studies at Eastern Kentucky University, rejects what he calls the "alien conspiracy" perception of organized crime as the corrupter of legitimate institutions. He asserts that ". . .organized criminals, legitimate businessmen, and government officials are all equal players in a marketplace of corruption" and that any of the three groups are as likely to initiate an exchange of services. Potter affirms that "organized crime must be viewed as an integral part of society’s political, economic, and social structure." Peter Dale Scott, an emeritus professor of English at U. of C. Berkeley and a former Canadian diplomat, coined the term "deep politics" to describe this same integration of crime and public life. Scott’s writings have focused mostly on the national and international aspects of such crime (e.g. Scott, 1993).

The same symbiosis existing between criminal and legitimate enterprise at the local level also exists on a larger scale; municipal syndicates could not thrive under a hostile national political economy. The group organizing the federally-protected drug traffic is the national counterpart of the better-known municipal syndicates. These local syndicates require the partnership of local banks and business, local officials, and local news media to be successful. Like these smaller syndicates, the national syndicates have partnership with national and international banks, media, businesses, and public officials. At the federal level, the CIA and Justice Department (which encompasses the FBI, DEA, and INS) perform the functions which at the local level are the domain of city and county law enforcement - to regulate the narcotics trade. That is, they are the means by which certain distribution networks are protected and others are eliminated.

The Central Intelligence Agency historically has had little or no official role in government drug policy. Nevertheless, during the more than fifty years of its existence, it has been a major factor in drug enforcement efforts. That is to say that the Justice Department has the option of deciding whether to prosecute a case only if the CIA or State Department doesn’t torpedo it first.

One of the CIA’s responsibilities is to report on terrorist and insurgent groups around the world. These groups rely on illegal activities, frequently drug trafficking, to fund their campaigns. The only effective way to report on these secretive groups is to cooperate with or infiltrate them. The most effective way, especially if the CIA shares common goals with such groups, is to sponsor them. Thus the CIA has become the sponsor of many drug trafficking organizations throughout the latter half of the twentieth century. These groups have been variously composed of Nationalist Chinese (1950s Burma), Cuban exiles (early 1960s South Florida), Hmong tribesmen (Laos, during the Vietnam War), Kurds (mid-1970s and later), exiled Nicaraguan National Guardsmen (early 1980s), the Mujahedeen (Pakistan and Afghanistan, 1980s) and more recently the Kosovo Liberation Army (late 1990s).1 With CIA assistance, these groups have achieved prominence in the narcotics trade and have naturally come to the attention of the DEA. But the DEA’s efforts to prosecute such organizations are either officially halted or quietly undermined in the name of "national security." Professor Alfred McCoy, now teaching Southeast Asian history at the University of Wisconsin, was one of the first to note this problem in his 1972 book, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia.

Michael Levine quit the DEA in 1989 after his 18 years of efforts to put away many of the most powerful dealers in the world had been repeatedly obstructed by the CIA, the Justice Department, and his own superiors in the DEA. On his first DEA assignment as an undercover agent in Thailand, Levine had arranged a meeting with "then the biggest source of heroin on earth" in Changmai. He was called into the US embassy and told that he was not going to Changmai. Furthermore, the case was to be shut down because it could adversely affect other government priorities. Namely, the target of the case was a key figure in the government’s regional anti-Communist strategy. The pattern was repeated for Levine later on assignment in Bolivia (Levine, 1993).

Agent Celerino Castillo reported that he was instructed by his DEA superiors to quit pursuing a CIA-connected cocaine smuggling operation which he uncovered at El Salvador’s Ilopango Air Base (Castillo and Harmon, 1994). Dennis Dayle, former chief of a special DEA task force, reported that "In my 30-year history in the Drug Enforcement Administration and related agencies, the major targets of my investigations almost invariably turned out to be working for the CIA" (Scott and Marshall, 1991:x-xi). Panama’s head of state, General Manuel Noriega, was a DEA target for years but was protected by patrons in Washington – often the CIA – until he became too great an embarrassment and was seized by the U.S. military in the 1989 invasion (Mills, 1986).

It is reasonable to expect that DEA agents will continue to be frustrated in their efforts to prosecute traffickers with CIA connections, especially considering George W. Bush's appointment of Asa Hutchinson as the head of the agency. Hutchinson became the US attorney for western Arkansas in 1985 as CIA asset Barry Seal was making the area notorious for drug smuggling and money laundering. Hutchinson resisted prosecuting Seal. Bill Duncan, the IRS investigator on the case, was bewildered. "I had found Asa Hutchinson to be a very aggressive U.S. attorney in connection with my cases," Duncan said. "Then, all of a sudden, with respect to Mena, it was just like the information was going in, but nothing was happening, over a long period of time." (Leveritt 2001) However, Duncan must have eventually come to understand the pressures Hutchinson must have been facing on the Seal case, considering the circumstances of Duncan's resignation (above).

The White House has also demonstrated its vulnerability to the influence of the drug economy, in ways too numerous to fully detail here. The Kennedy Administration’s effort to clean up the Teamsters, jail certain mafia leaders, and break up a Gulf States smuggling ring, thus to eliminate major sources of funding for political rivals, were among the greatest factors contributing to the president’s 1963 assassination.2 Lyndon Johnson came to the presidency as a result of the assassination and did not seek reelection in 1968 because the Vietnam War, fueled to some degree by drug profits, was spinning out of control and creating a domestic crisis. Richard Nixon’s 1971 declaration of the first "War on Drugs," his diplomatic pressures on Turkey to cease opium production, and his administration’s cooperation with the American mafia and the French government to destroy the Corsican mafia all served merely to weaken the so-called "French Connection" and give a market foothold for the above-mentioned Gulf States syndicate which had organized new sources of supply in Southeast Asia (Krüger, 1980). The burglars who broke into the Watergate Hotel in 1972 were all affiliated with the CIA and its Cuba operations, which operations were extremely entangled in drug trafficking. Nixon’s near-impeachment and resignation may have stemmed from an effort on his part to protect from exposure a GOP- and CIA-connected money-laundering operation from which the burglars’ money came. The Carter Presidency ended and the Reagan Presidency began as American hostages were being held in Iran; evidence continues to amass showing that Bill Casey, the Reagan team’s campaign manager, who was Reagan’s future CIA director, negotiated with Iranians to delay the release of the hostages until inauguration day, thus denying Carter the opportunity for an "October Surprise" comeback (Sick, 1991; Parry et al.). Casey played a major role in the trafficking associated with CIA support of the Nicaraguan resistance. Reagan’s running mate George Bush, a former CIA director and future president, has had no more than one degree of separation from CIA drug smuggling operations since the 1960s.3 His sons Jeb and George W. have had ample opportunity to carry on that tradition as Gulf States governors; now George W. occupies the White House. Governor Bill Clinton’s toleration of trafficking and the economic frenzy that it created in his state was a major factor in his election to the Presidency;4 his knowledge of Republican complicity in those same activities was the trump card that he played to prevent his impeachment. 5

From an academic perspective, CIA protection of drug traffickers might be seen as an unfortunate side effect of legitimate national security efforts. A more practical-minded person might see the CIA, a quintessentially secretive and powerful organization with operations around the globe, as the perfect cover for making astronomical amounts of money from international narcotics trafficking. Both motivations, national security and financial gain, are a factor in the relationship between the CIA and drug trafficking organizations. One cannot truly say which is the tail and which is the dog.

The first image is the pursuit of money for money’s sake, and Occam’s Razor suggests greed as the best explanation for officially-protected drug trafficking; but that is not the whole truth. In some respects, the guilty officials in the above-mentioned agencies are merely the instruments of policymakers at a higher level, both in government and the private sector. It is here that the second image, or the demands of the state, comes into play.

Image Two

The second image is the one most often espoused by the government officials who will even acknowledge the problem of government failure to prosecute certain trafficking organizations. The second image is that other government priorities take precedence over the "War on Drugs." There are variations on this theme. According to this image, American allies abroad sometimes have members participating in drug smuggling and the U.S. prefers to preserve this alliance rather than to prosecute. This seems to be the conclusion of Professor Alfred McCoy in The Politics of Heroin and is also the impression left by the observations of James Mills in his book, The Underground Empire, which tells the story of three investigations conducted by Dennis Dayle’s special DEA task force (1986). This is also the explanation implied by the State Department’s instructions to DEA agent Michael Levine in Thailand (see above). Another variation on this image is that allocating the time and resources to investigate allegations of trafficking on the part of our allies is simply not practical in the midst of a covert operation. Such was the opinion expressed by Charles Cogan, the CIA’s chief of operations for South Asia during the early 1980s, looking back on the Afghan war (Hilton, 1996). These two variations on the first image do not, however, satisfactorily explain active support of the drug trade by government officials. A third variation on this image is that the United States government may make a deliberate decision to fund a campaign vital to the national security with drug money, as the French did in Indochina until their 1954 defeat at Dienbienphu. If one does not consider the depth and breadth of corruption associated with the contra war, this might have sufficed as an explanation for the Reagan administration’s support of the contras after the Boland Amendments cut off congressional aid; but too many private pockets were filled in the process to think the entire affair justified for reasons of state. Similar circumstances attended the Ford administration's arming of the Kurds: in March 1975, the Shah of Iran agreed to cut off overt U.S. arms supplies to the Kurds in exchange for Saddam Hussein’s agreement to relinquish control of a waterway which would allow increased oil exports by Iran. According to Paul Jabber, a professor of political science at UCLA and a former consultant to President Jimmy Carter, a decision had been made at the NSC level to re-arm the Kurds by selling heroin in the United States. This decision was allegedly reached because the administration could not expect congressional funding for the operation even as the disastrous Vietnam conflict was coming to an end (Ruppert, 2000).

Though deliberate decisions may be made to use drug revenue to fund operations when congressional support is denied, it is not reasonable that an administration would turn to narcotics trafficking as a means of revenue for the sole reason that the use of federal money for that purpose has been outlawed. Compliance with the law could not possibly be the motivation for such crimes; furthermore, if an administration were determined that it would pursue a cause despite congressional disapproval, it would certainly be a more defensible course of action to illegally use the revenue hidden in the national security community’s enormous "black budget" than to turn to drug trafficking.

Image Three

The third image, seldom expressed at all, is related to Waltz’s third image of war and the Realist perspective on international relations and international political economy. That is, that the international system is anarchical in nature and all states must provide for their security with this in mind.

Because the international system is based upon anarchy, the use of force or coercion by other nation-states is always a possibility and no other country or higher authority is obligated to come to the aid of a nation-state under attack. Nation-states are thus ultimately dependent on their own resources for protection. For Realists, then, each nation-state must always be prepared to defend itself to the best of its ability. It must always seek to maximize its power; the failure to do so threatens the very existence of the nation-state and may make it vulnerable to others (Frieden and Lake, 1991:10).

In other words, there is no world judicial system which will redress international wrongs, so states must provide security for themselves. Where tensions exist between states, sometimes that means doing unto others before they can do unto you, as was the case in Israel’s 1967 preemptive attack on its Arab neighbors. Striking first is not to take the high moral ground, but many statesmen view the world as being amoral in nature. Machiavelli also pointed out the amorality of interstate relations, and wrote that being right is no substitute for being in power.

The relevance of this to the narcotics trade is that the United States, like all other states, seeks security through the accumulation of wealth. It takes money to maintain armies and to produce superior weapons. In a world system in which money laundering and the smuggling of arms and drugs are the top three businesses, a state which refuses to participate in such illegal activities may fear that it is putting itself at a serious disadvantage. Furthermore, a state recognizing that the illegal trade in drugs will always be present may decide that if that is the case, they might as well be the ones reaping the profits. This is the third image of government toleration of drug trafficking and is the one put forth in William Chambliss’ 1988 presidential address to the American Society of Criminology, "State-Organized Crime" (1988b). Official participation in smuggling can be viewed as a form of modern mercantilism, the sixteenth-century doctrine which "asserted that power and wealth were closely interrelated and legitimate goals of national policy" (Frieden and Lake, 1991:69). In the nineteenth century, Britain used its opium monopoly to correct its balance-of-payments problems with China, despite the fact that the drug was illegal. When the Chinese restricted all trade – legal and illegal – in protest, the royal navy was dispatched to "reopen the market" (Beeching, 1975).

It was balance of payments and similar concerns which prompted an effort in the 1980s to determine the true dimensions of the international narcotics traffic. In something of a panic, the CIA and DEA both rushed to find answers for nervous policymakers. In The Underground Empire, James Mills describes the origin of "Operation Cashflow":

Crime is crime, after all -- armed robbery, bank embezzlement, drug dealing. It's been around a long time, not too hard to live with. But then something happened. The light dawned. Men long inured to drug-use statistics, to anticrime rhetoric, to outraged editorials, were suddenly shocked from complacency by a shower of buzzwords they took very seriously indeed. Gross national product Balance of payments. Foreign exchange. Something had endangered America's economic base. Where was all this drug money going? Could it be used to alter balances of power? In Washington power centers, including the White House, telephones were lifted in alarm, panic buttons pressed, emergency meetings convened. (Mills 1986:1130)

Of course, complicity in smuggling on the grounds of national security is completely indefensible as a policy. Such activity is not only criminal; it is inherently destructive and corrupting. It undermines the very legitimacy of the state. Even if viewed as a sound idea, it would in practice be impossible to carry out such a policy in a sensible fashion. The government would be forced in many cases to prosecute the agents of its policy if their activities were exposed; if the laws against smuggling were repealed and such activities were done openly, the profits for the activity would evaporate. Lives are destroyed every day as a result of such policies.

Which of these three images is most accurate? That is a highly subjective question, for it can only be addressed by polling the participants for their individual motives, and they are unlikely to answer honestly if they can even be identified. The fact is that all three images are applicable, and that is one reason that the phenomenon has been the subject of such controversy.

NOTES

  1. On nationalist Chinese in Burma: see Scott, 1972; Wise and Ross, 1964. Especially after the early 1960s heyday of the CIA’s war on Cuba, anti-Castro Cuban exiles played a prominent role in Latin American-US drug traffic: see Krüger, 1980; Scott and Marshall, 1991. On Hmong tribesmen: McCoy, 1972. On Nicaraguan exiles: Scott and Marshall, 1991; Webb, 1998. On the Afghan War: McCoy, 1991; Hilton, 1996. On the Kosovo Liberation Army: Smucker, 1999; Chussodovsky, 1999.
  2. See "Rogue Elephant" by this author.
  3. Mike Ruppert saw drugs being smuggled into the U.S. by the CIA, the military, Brown and Root, and the Marcello crime family in 1977, during which time George Bush was CIA director. See Ruppert, "The Bush-Cheney Drug Empire." One aspect of the operation used offshore oil rigs owned by the Zapata Offshore Company to bypass U.S. Customs. George Bush became president of Zapata in 1954 (compare Giancana and Giancana, 1992, cited above).
  4. Reed and Cummings, 1994; Larry Nichols, former Director of Marketing for the Arkansas Development Finance Authority, said "There was a hundred million a month in cocaine coming in and out of Mena, Arkansas." Nichols said that ADFA laundered the money (see the infamous documentary "The Clinton Chronicles." Regarding Mena, the documentary is one-sided but essentially correct). Arkansas State Trooper claims that when he asked Governor Clinton about the CIA drug flights into Mena, Clinton replied "That’s [Dan] Lasater’s deal."
  5. Volume II of the CIA Inspector General’s Report on the CIA and cocaine trafficking contained damning revelations regarding Republican appointees. This report was released to the public on October 8, 1998, one hour after Henry Hyde’s committee voted to begin an impeachment inquiry. The report contained, among other things, the above-mentioned Smith-Casey memo, rumored to have been drafted by none other than former Smith underling Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel whose investigation produced evidence of the impeachable offenses. That possible publicity regarding Volume II weighed heavily on the Senate’s mind during the impeachment vote is evidenced by four visits from the senate to Mike Ruppert’s web site on September 11, the day before the final vote. See http://www.copvcia.com/alert_Jan.1.htm .

REFERENCES

Beeching, Jack. 1975. The Chinese Opium Wars. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Brewton, Pete. 1992. The Mafia, the CIA and George Bush. New York: S.P.I. Books.

Buchholz, Todd G. 1989. New Ideas From Dead Economists. New York: Penguin Books.

Caro, Robert. 1982. The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path To Power. New York: Knopf.

Castillo, Celerino and Dave Harmon. 1994. Powderburns. Oakville, Ontario: Mosaic Press.

Central Intelligence Agency. 1998. Report of the Inspector General: Allegations of Connections Between CIA and the Contras in Cocaine Trafficking to the United States. Volume II, Exhibit 2.

Chambliss, William J. 1988a. On The Take. (second edition) Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

-----. 1988b. "State-Organized Crime." Criminology, 27:183-208 (1989)

-----. 1971. "Vice, Corruption, Bureaucracy and Power." Wisconsin Law Review, Vol. 1971, No. 4, pp. 1150-73.

Chussodovsky, Michael. 1999. "Kosovo ‘Freedom Fighters’ Financed by Organised Crime."

Parry, Robert et al. Consortium for Independent Journalism. "The ‘October Surprise’ X-Files," http:// www.consortiumnews.com/ archive/xfile.html.

DiEugenio, James. 1992. Destiny Betrayed: JFK, Cuba, and the Garrison Case. New York: Sheridan Square Press.

Frieden, Jeffrey A. and David A Lake. 1991. International Political Economy: Perspectives on Global Power and Wealth, second ed. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Giancana, Chuck and Sam Giancana. 1992. Double Cross. New York: Warner Books.

Hilton, Chris (writer and producer). "Dealing With The Demon." 1996. Australian Film Finance Corporation.

Krüger, Henrik. 1980. The Great Heroin Coup. Boston: South End Press.

Leveritt, Mara. "Asa and Me." Arkansas Times, 25 May 2001. http://arktimes.com/010525coverstoryb.html

Levine, Michael. 1993. The Big White Lie. New York: Thunder’s Mouth.

Manning, Peter K. and Lawrence John Redlinger. 1976. "Invitational Edges of Corruption." In Paul Rock, ed. Politics and Drugs. New York: Dutton/Society Books, 1976.

McCoy, Alfred. 1972. The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia. New York: Harper Colophon Books.

McCoy, Alfred W. 1991. The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade. Brooklyn: Lawrence Hill Books.

Mills, James. 1986. The Underground Empire. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

Morrow, Robert. 1992. First Hand Knowledge: How I Participated in the CIA-Mafia Murder of John F. Kennedy. New York: S.P.I. Books.

Potter, Gary W. "Corporate and State Corruption: Organized Crime as a Case Study of Criminogenic Policy." From syllabus for CRJ 875, Crime and Public Policy, Eastern Kentucky University. http://www.policestudies.eku.edu/ POTTER/Module8.htm

Reed, Terry and John Cummings. 1994. Compromised. New York: S.P.I. Books.

Ruppert, Michael. 2000. "The Bush-Cheney Drug Empire."

Scott, Peter Dale. 1972. The War Conspiracy: The Secret Road to the Second Indochina War. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.

Scott, Peter Dale. 1993. Deep Politics and the Death of JFK. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Scott, Peter Dale and Jonathan Marshall. 1991. Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies and the CIA in Central America. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Sick, Gary. 1991. October Surprise: America’s Hostages in Iran and the Election of Ronald Reagan. New York: Times Books.

Smucker, Philip G. with Mike Tharp, Warren P. Strobel, Franklin Foer. "Why America may, or may not, arm the rebels." US News and World Report, April 26, 1999.

Twyman, Noel. 1997. Bloody Treason. Rancho Santa Fe, CA: Laurel Publishing.

Gigot, Paul. "Potomac Watch." Wall Street Journal, March 26 1993.

Waltz, Kenneth N. Man, the State and War. 1954. New York: Columbia University Press.

Webb, Gary. Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras and the Crack Cocaine Explosion. New York: Seven Stories Press.

Wise, David and Thomas Ross. 1964. The Invisible Government. New York: Random House.