Thursday, February 17, 2011

REagan and Bush's Not-So-Secret War: Part 6

The White House and Drugs

There is no absolutely irrefutable evidence that a decision was made in the White House to permit the Contras to sell drugs. We do know that the government of Costa Rica examined the matter thoroughly and found it necessary to ban Lt. Colonel Oliver North and three other high US operatives for life from its territory. In 1998 Frederick Hitz, C.I.A. Inspector General confirmed that the agency was involved in this trade. In his report to Congress, the general referenced a memorandum, to Vice President Bush that provided specific information on one set of drug operations. 1The agency admitted to tolerating the trade by Contras, but it did not claim that its own personnel were involved. It has also not denied evidence that it acted in the eighties to torpedo investigations that would have exposed the Contras" drug trade. Lewis Tambs, former ambassador to Costa Rica, later wrote that it was his impression that North, Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams, and C.I.A. official Alan D. Fiers, Jr. were “triumvirate” operating the secret war. 2

The Oliver North diaries do not establish clearly that the NSC and C.I.A. was dealing in drugs North was a Marine Lieutenant Colonel and a C.I.A. agent working in Reagan’s National Security Council. . They make it clear that North and American agents clearly knew that the Contras were involved in drug running. There is no evidence North notified the DEA of these activities. North worked hard to obtain the release of an Honduran general who could have exposed the drug running activities of the Contras. 3 However, it was also clear that many actions were taken to facilitate drug running.

The Oliver North diary for August 9, 1985 noted that a plane flown for Mario Calero, the brother of the head of the Contras, was probably carrying drugs to New Orleans. The July 12, 1985 entry notes that General Richard Secord told North that weapons in a Honduran warehouse had been purchased with drug money. Secord’s partner, Albert Hakim, an Iranian who became an US citizen, handled the procurement of weapons for him. Hakim also sold weapons to Iran and helped the shah’s generals park the bribes they received in Swiss bank accounts. Secord had been dealing weapons while still an active duty Air Force officer. Later, as a private citizen, he helped North move arms to Iran in the Iran/Contra deal and told a Congressional committee that his commission was $8,000,000.

It should be noted that the Senate never got all of Ollie North’d diaries. His attorneys had the right to expunge whatever they thought was irrelevant and just give whatever remaining text there was to the Senate committee. It never got clean copies or the actual diaries, and it had a very short mandated life, meaning the ten months it had to enforce subpoenas ran out before the wheels of justice could turn.

An April 1, 1985 memo from Robert Owen to North ( “the Hammer”) told of Contras on the southern front running drugs. Owen was a former member of Senator Daniel Quayle’s staff and functioned as North’s eyes and ears in Central America. Owen was on Quayle’s staff in 1980 and worked also as Donald Gregg’s liaison ON Capitol Hill.

He remained on Quayle’s staff until 1983, and took C.I.A. operative John Hull around to meet important Republicans on the Hill. Quayle was close to Bill Casey and Beurt SerVaas, a board member of Veterans of the OSS, which still had great influence in the C.I.A.. In November, Owen joined a lobbying firm that represented the Contras, but he was essentially part of North’s Project Democracy. . In 1985, he founded the Institute for Democracy, Education, and Assistance and received a humanitarian assistance grant from the State Department In a interview with CBS’s West 57th Street, mercenary commander Jack Terrel said that Owen told him he took money to Hull on a monthly basis. He was with Hull on the night of the La Penca bombing. Owen’s role was that of a cut out between the NSA and the Contras.

In a February 10, 1986 memo, Robert Owen tells North--now “ Blood and Guts”-- that a plane previously used by Vortex Corporation in Florida had been used to run drugs. The owner of the firm was a known drug dealer, and a humanitarian venture controlled by North and Elliott Abrams paid the firm $300,000 that year. The memo also detailed Contra drug activities and suggested that two drug dealers working with them were probably just in it for the money. . On July 28, 1988, two DEA agents told the Kerry Subcommittee about a DEA sting operation against the Columbian Drug Cartel. North wanted to take the $1.5 million in bribe money for his purposes or operations. On August 23, 1988, North e-mailed John Poindexter that Manuel Noriega would “take care of the Sandanistas” if the NSC cleaned up his image. The reference was to drug dealing. North suggested giving Noriega $1 million from the profits of the Ireanian arms sale. There are numerous other references to drug money in the North notebooks, including a February 14, 1985 reference to $14 million raised through the drug trade. 4

1 comment:

Anonymous said...