CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

1997-2000

San Jose Mercury News Story on Contras and Crack

Materials arranged chronologically.

Prados, John. "You Call that Intelligence?" Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Mar.-Apr. 1997, 20-21.

This is an interesting piece of sophistry. While admitting that "the weight of the evidence seems to exonerate the CIA" of charges of complicity in importing crack cocaine into the United States, the author manages to use this false charge to support his argument for "intelligence reform."

Zoglin, Richard. "Not-so-Hot Copy in San Jose: A Newspaper Backs Off a Big Scoop, but Rivals Shouldn't Gloat." Time, 26 May 1997. [http://www.time.com]

Mercury News executive editor Jerry Ceppos's editorial has stated that Webb's series "did not meet our standards" in several respects. However, the paper's confession is not "likely to change the minds of those who want to believe that the U.S. government was behind the introduction of crack into the inner city.... [T]he lure of talk-show celebrity, maybe even a Hollywood deal, may have played a role in letting a promising investigative piece get out of control."

Miller, Abraham H. "How the CIA Fell Victim to Myth Posing as Journalism." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 10, no. 3 (Fall 1997): 257-268.

Referring to the power and effect of myth, Miller makes a valiant effort to explain the unexplainable -- how a story of doubtful origin and credibility could gain the level of attention and currency that this one did. Whether Miller has the answer or not, his hypothesis is better than most. Miller's description of DCI John Deutch's visit to South Central Los Angeles as "an unprecedented and incomprehensible act of folly" needs no further elaboration.

Pincus, Walter. "Inspectors General Find No Ties Between CIA, L.A. Drug Dealers." Washington Post, 19 Dec. 1997, A2.

Weiner, Tim. "C.I.A. Says It Has Found No Link Between Itself and Crack Trade." New York Times, 19 Dec. 1997, A21.

U.S. Department of Justice. Office of the Inspector General. The CIA-Contra-Crack Cocaine Controversy: A Review of the Justice Department's Investigations and Prosecutions. Washington, DC: Dec. 1997. [http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/doj/oig/c4rpt/exsump1.htm#IV]

From "Introduction": "[O]ur review did not substantiate the main allegations stated and implied in the Mercury News articles....We did not find that Blandon, Meneses, or the other Contra supporters referred to in these articles received special consideration or leniency with regard to their investigation or prosecution by the Department of Justice because of their Contra connections....

"Moreover, the implication that the drug trafficking by the individuals discussed in the Mercury News articles was connected to the CIA was also not supported by the facts.... Finally, we found that neither Blandon's supply of cocaine to Ross nor Ross' own drug dealing was the cause of the crack explosion in Los Angeles or across the United States, as the articles implied."

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Office of Inspector General. Investigations Staff. Report of Investigation Concerning Allegations of Connections Between the CIA and the Contras in Cocaine Trafficking to the United States (96-0143-IG). Washington, DC: 29 Jan. 1998.

1. Overview: Report of Investigation. Washington, DC: 29 Jan. 1998. [https://www.cia.gov/library/reports/general-reports-1/cocaine/overview-of-report-of-investigation-2.html]

"No information has been found to indicate that any past or present employee of CIA, or anyone acting on behalf of CIA, had any direct or indirect dealing with Ricky Ross, Oscar Danilo Blandon or Juan Norwin Meneses. Additionally, no information has been found to indicate that CIA had any relationship or contact with Ronald J. Lister or David Scott Weekly, the person Lister allegedly claimed was his CIA contact. No information has been found to indicate that any of these individuals was ever employed by CIA, or met by CIA employees or anyone acting on CIA's behalf."

2. Volume I: The California Story. Washington, DC: 29 Jan. 1998. [https://www.cia.gov/library/reports/general-reports-1/cocaine/report/index.html]

"Note: This is an unclassified version of a Report of Investigation that included information that is classified for national security reasons pursuant to Executive Order 12958 and sensitive law enforcement information. To the fullest extent possible, the text of this unclassified version is the same as that included in the classified version. Where different language has been required for national security or law enforcement purposes, the revised language is as close as possible to the original text."

2. Volume II: The Contra Story. Washington, DC: 8 Oct. 1998. [https://www.cia.gov/library/reports/general-reports-1/cocaine/contra-story/report-of-investigation-volume-ii-the-contra-story-2.html]

"No information has been found to indicate that CIA as an organization or its employees conspired with, or assisted, Contra-related organizations or individuals in drug trafficking to raise funds for the Contras or for any other purpose."

Tenet, George J. "Statement by George J. Tenet, Director of Central Intelligence." Washington, DC: CIA, Public Affairs Office, 29 Jan. 1998. [https://www.cia.gov]

A 17-month investigation by the CIA's Inspector General (IG) "has found no evidence that would substantiate The San Jose Mercury News allegations that the CIA had any involvement with Ricky Ross, Oscar Danilo Blandon, or Juan Norwin Meneses, or in cocaine trafficking in California to raise funds for the Nicaraguan Contras."

Weiner, Tim. "C.I.A. Report Concludes Agency Knew Nothing of Drug Dealers' Ties to Rebels." New York Times, 30 Jan. 1998, A11.

On 29 January 1998, the CIA released the first of two volumes of CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz' report of his office's investigation of the San Jose Mercury News story of 18 August 1996. The report concludes "that the agency knew nothing about California cocaine dealers who claimed connections" with the CIA-supported rebels in Nicaragua.

Miller, Abraham H. "The CIA and the Crack Cocaine Story: Fact or Fiction?" The World and I, Feb. 1998, 304-317.

Grunwald, Michael. "Justice Dept. IG Rebuts CIA-Crack Allegations." Washington Post, 24 Jul. 1998, A2. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

A report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael R. Bromwich on 23 July 1998 "offered another major rebuttal" to the San Jose Mercury News' allegations of CIA complicity in the crack cocaine epidemic. Bromwich "found no evidence" that either Oscar Danilo Blandon or Norwin Meneses was connected to the CIA.

Associated Press. "CIA Had No Role in Crack Epidemic, House Probe Concludes." Washington Post, 12 May 2000, A29. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

A HPSCI report issued on 11 May 2000 says that the CIA "did not play a role in bringing crack cocaine into the Los Angeles area in the 1980s."

 

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