CIA Says It Has Found No Link Between Itself and Crack Trade
A 1997 The New York Times classic
Editor’s note: What a find. A superb piece of accidental satire. Would make a propagandist for Stalin in 1937 blush. How anyone can write and run something this cringy and not die of embarrassment is beyond me.
After interviewing nearly 400 people on four continents, the Central Intelligence Agency says its officers had nothing to do with the explosion of crack cocaine in the United States.
In a still-secret report, the agency says it has found ‘‘no information to indicate that the C.I.A. coordinated or condoned drug trafficking or had dealings with crack dealers,” said a Government official who would not allow his name to be used.
A separate internal investigation into drug trafficking by C.I.A.-backed rebels in Central America is continuing, the official said.
The investigation that is now complete was intended to quiet a public outcry, amplified by radio talk shows and Internet chat rooms, that started with three news articles published by The San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News in August 1996.
Those articles asserted that ”a cocaine-for-weapons trade supported U.S. policy and undermined black America.” They said California cocaine dealers took ”millions in drug profits” from street sales of crack cocaine and gave the money to the the C.I.A.-backed rebels who fought a guerrilla war against the left-wing of Nicaraguan Government in the 1980’s. The articles strongly implied that the intelligence agency knew of and condoned the drug trafficking.
These points, upon close reading, were unsupported by hard evidence. The articles attracted little attention when they were first published. But they caught fire on the newspaper’s Web site, where they were illustrated by an image of a man smoking crack superimposed on the C.I.A.’s logo.
Their conclusions were distorted by repetition on the electronic grapevine into a full-blown conspiracy theory: that the C.I.A., figuratively speaking, had rammed a crack pipe down millions of Americans’ throats.
Jerry Ceppos, the executive editor of The Mercury News, said last May that the articles were marred by oversimplifications and failed to meet the newspaper’s standards. Gary Webb, the reporter who wrote the articles, resigned from the newspaper last week after a protracted dispute over the disclaimer that Mr. Ceppos issued.
The C.I.A. said its inspector general’s office spent 16 months interviewing 400 people on four continents and reviewing about 250,000 pages of documents before declaring itself free of blame in the crack cocaine epidemic.
The agency’s continuing investigation of drug trafficking by the anti-Communist rebels has a richer lode of evidence to mine. In 1989 a special Senate subcommittee, led by Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, found that ”the United States Government ignored the drug problem and subverted law enforcement to prevent embarrassment and to reward our allies in the contra war,” the subcommittee’s chief investigator, Jack Blum, told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence last year.
The C.I.A. was supposed to publish its findings from the now-completed report on Wednesday. That was postponed pending the conclusion of a separate Justice Department investigation into the cocaine-contra-C.I.A. accusations.
The agency still intends to make some information about the investigations public in some form at some time in the future, a spokesman said.
Source: World’s premier satirical paper, The New York Times