CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

1998

Inspector General on Contras and Drugs

Click for a range of reportage and comment on the CIA-Contras-cocaine story that began with a series of reports by Gary Webb in the San Jose Mercury News, 18 August 1996.

Materials presented in chronological order.

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.

Pincus, Walter. "Inspector: CIA Kept Ties With Alleged Traffickers." Washington Post, 17 Mar. 1998, A12. [http://www.washingtonpost.com/]

CIA Inspector General Frederick R. Hitz told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on 16 March 1998 that "'there are instances where CIA did not, in an expeditious or consistent fashion, cut off relationships with individuals supporting the contra program who were alleged to have engaged in drug-trafficking activity or take action to resolve the allegations'.... But, he added, investigators 'found no evidence . . . of any conspiracy by CIA or its employees to bring drugs into the United States.'"

Risen, James. "CIA Said to Ignore Charges of Contra Drug Dealing in '80s." New York Times, 10 Oct. 1998. [http://www.nytimes.com]

The second volume of the CIA Inspector General's report says that "the agency 'did not inform Congress of all allegations or information it received indicating that contra-related organizations or individuals were involved in drug trafficking.'"

Pincus, Walter. "CIA Ignored Tips Alleging Contra Drug Links, Report Says." Washington Post, 3 Nov, 1998, A4. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

The declassified version of a report by the CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz "discloses ... that the agency did little or nothing to respond to hundreds of drug allegations about contra officials, their contractors and individual supporters.... [The] report disclosed ... that in 1982, after the CIA's covert support of the contras began, then-Reagan Attorney General William French Smith and CIA Director William J. Casey agreed to drop a previous requirement that agency personnel report information about alleged criminal activities when undertaken by persons 'acting for' the CIA."

Hitz, Frederick P. "Obscuring Propriety: The CIA and Drugs." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 12, no. 4 (Winter 1999): 448-462.

The former CIA statutory Inspector General examines "[s]ome of the reasons for the inconsistency in CIA's responses to drug trafficking allegations or information concerning Contra-related individuals in the 1980s."

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