Saturday, March 29, 2008


Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
Chapter 4: Problems of Population Control Segment 4/11
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Reference to the CIA brings to mind another interesting gap in the program. The CIA and other U.S. government agencies have been instrumental in establishing and maintaining the drug racket since World War II, when mafia connections were used to split and undermine the French labor unions and the Communist Party, laying the groundwork for the "French connection" based in Marseilles. The Golden Triangle (Laos, Burma, Thailand) became a major narcotics center as Chinese Nationalist troops fled to the region after their defeat in China, and not long after, as the CIA helped implement the drug flow as part of its effort to recruit a mercenary "clandestine army" of highland tribesmen for its counterinsurgency operations in Laos. Over the years, the drug traffic came to involve other U.S. clients as well. In 1989, General Ramón Montano, chief of the Philippine constabulary, testified in a public hearing in Manila that drug syndicates operating in the Golden Triangle use the Philippines as a transshipment point to other parts of Asia and the West, and conceded that military officers are involved, as a Senate investigation had reported. The Philippines are on their way to "becoming like Colombia," one Senator observed.21

The effect was the same as the CIA shifted its attention to the terrorist war against Nicaragua and the Afghan resistance against Soviet occupation. The complicity of the Reagan-Bush administrations in the drug rackets in Central America as part of their contra support operations is by now well known. Pakistan is reported to have become one of the major international centers of the heroin trade when Afghan manufacturers and dealers "found their operations restricted after the Soviet invasion in 1979," and moved the enterprise across the borders (South). "The U.S. government has for several years received, but declined to investigate, reports of heroin trafficking by some Afghan guerrillas and Pakistani military officers with whom it cooperates," the Washington Post reported well after the drug war was charging full steam ahead. U.S. officials have received first-hand accounts of "extensive heroin smuggling" by the leading Afghan recipients of U.S. aid and the Pakistani military establishment, who gave detailed information to the press in Pakistan and Washington. "Nevertheless, according to U.S. officials, the United States has failed to investigate or take action against some [read "any"] of those suspected." U.S. favorite Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the terrorist leader of the fundamentalist Hizbe-Islami party, is reported to be deeply implicated in drug trafficking. Other reports indicate that the Aghan rebels are being "debilitated by increasingly fierce local battles for the lucrative heroin trade."22

As in Asia, U.S. allies in Central America are also caught up in the drug traffic. Only Costa Rica has a civilian government (despite pretenses), and its Legislative Assembly's Drug Commission has provided information about these matters. Former president Daniel Oduber was cited for accepting a campaign contribution from James Lionel Casey, a U.S. citizen in prison in Costa Rica on charges of drug trafficking. The Commission recommended that Oliver North, Admiral John Poindexter, former Ambassador Lewis Tambs, former CIA station chief Joe Fernandez, and General Richard Secord "never again be allowed to enter Costa Rica," the Costa Rican press reported in July 1989, blaming them for "opening a gate" for arms and drug traffickers as they illegally organized a "southern front" for the contras in Costa Rica. A rural guard Colonel was charged with offering security for drug traffickers using air strips, probably including those used for supplying contras in Nicaragua, the Commission President told reporters. Oliver North was charged with setting up a supply line with General Noriega that brought arms to Costa Rica and drugs to the U.S. The Commission also implicated U.S. rancher John Hull. Most serious, the Commission reported, was "the obvious infiltration of international gangs into Costa Rica that made use of the [contra] organization," on requests "initiated by Colonel North to General Noriega," which opened Costa Rica "for trafficking in arms and drugs" by "this mafia," in part as an "excuse to help the contras."23

There are good reasons why the CIA and drugs are so closely linked. Clandestine terror requires hidden funds, and the criminal elements to whom the intelligence agencies naturally turn expect a quid pro quo. Drugs are the obvious answer. Washington's long-term involvement in the drug racket is part and parcel of its international operations, notably, during the Reagan-Bush administrations. One prime target for an authentic drug war would therefore be close at hand.

These facts are too salient to have been ignored completely, but one has to look well beyond the media to become aware of the scale and significance of the "Washington connection" over many years. The public image conveyed is very different. A typical illustration is a story by New York Times Asia correspondent Steven Erlanger, headed "Southeast Asia Is Now No. 1 Source of U.S. Heroin." The story opens with the statement that "The Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia, whose flow of drugs the United States has been trying to control for 25 years, is once again the single-largest source of heroin coming into America..." Why has the Golden Triangle been such a problem to U.S. officials since 1965 -- a year that carries some associations, after all? The question is not raised, and there is no mention of the role of the United States government and its clandestine terror agencies in creating and maintaining the problem that "the United States has been trying to control." The U.S. figures merely as a victim and guardian of virtue. Discussion about drugs between U.S. and Thai officials is becoming more "forthright" and "even, at times angry," Western diplomats say, Thailand having become the main smuggling and shipment center for the Golden Triangle. Not coincidentally, though no hint appears here, Thailand was also designated as the focal point for U.S. military, terror, and subversion operations in the secret planning to undermine the 1954 Geneva Accords a few weeks after they were adopted over U.S. objections, and after that, served as the major base for U.S. bombing operations and clandestine war, as well as a source of mercenary forces for Indochina. "We're trying to get across to the Thais that drugs are an international problem and that Thailand is a target too," a diplomat said. That, however, is the limit of the U.S. role in Thailand generally or the Golden Triangle drug operations specifically, as far as the Times is concerned.24

The media rallied to the narrowly-conceived drug war with their usual efficiency and dispatch. The President's decision to send military aid to Colombia and the September 5 declaration of war against "the toughest domestic challenge we've faced in decades" set off a major media blitz, closely tailored to White House needs, though the absurdities of the program were so manifest that there was some defection at the margins. Several (unscientific) samples of wire service reports through September showed drug-related stories surpassing Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East combined. Media obedience reached such comical proportions as to elicit sarcastic commentary in the Wall Street Journal, where Hodding Carter observed that the President proceeded on the basis of "one lead-pipe cinch": that the media would march in step. "The mass media in America," he went on, "have an overwhelming tendency to jump up and down and bark in concert whenever the White House -- any White House -- snaps its fingers."25

The short-term impact was impressive. Shortly after the November 1988 elections, 34% of the public had selected the budget deficit as "George Bush's No. 1 priority once he takes office." 3% selected drugs as top priority, down from previous months. After the media blitz of September 1989, "a remarkable 43% say that drugs are the nation's single most important issue," the Wall Street Journal reports, with the budget deficit a distant second at 6%. In a June 1987 poll of registered voters in New York, taxes were selected as the number 1 issue facing the state (15%), with drugs far down the list (5%). A repeat in September 1989 gave dramatically different results: taxes were selected by 8% while the drug problem ranked far above any other, at a phenomenal 46%. The real world had hardly changed; its image had, as transmitted through the ideological institutions, reflecting the current needs of power.26

A martial tone has broader benefits for those who advocate state violence and repression to secure privilege. The government-media campaign helped create the required atmosphere among the general public and Congress. In a typical flourish, Senator Mark Hatfield, often a critic of reliance on force, said that in every congressional district "the troops are out there. All they're waiting for is the orders, a plan of attack, and they're ready to march." The bill approved by Congress widens the application of the death penalty, limits appeals by prisoners, and allows police broader latitude in obtaining evidence, among other measures. The entire repressive apparatus of the state is looking forward to benefits from this new "war," including the intelligence system and the Pentagon (which, however, is reluctant to be drawn into direct military actions that will quickly lose popular support). Military industry, troubled by the unsettling specter of peace, scents new markets here, and is "pushing swords as weapons in the drug war," Frank Greve reports from Washington. "Analysts say sales for drug-war work could spell relief for some sectors, such as commando operations, defense intelligence and counterterrorism," and Federal military laboratories may also find a new role. Army Colonel John Waghelstein, a leading counterinsurgency specialist, suggested that the narco-guerrilla connection could be exploited to mobilize public support for counterinsurgency programs and to discredit critics:

A melding in the American public's mind and in Congress of this connection would lead to the necessary support to counter the guerrilla/narcotics terrorists in this hemisphere. Generating that support would be relatively easy once the connection was proven and an all-out war was declared by the National Command Authority. Congress would find it difficult to stand in the way of supporting our allies with the training, advice and security assistance necessary to do the job. Those church and academic groups that have slavishly supported insurgency in Latin America would find themselves on the wrong side of the moral issue. Above all, we would have the unassailable moral position from which to launch a concerted offensive effort using Department of Defense (DOD) and non-DOD assets.27

In short, all proceeded on course.

Go to the next segment.

21 See Alfred W. McCoy, Cathleen B. Reach, and Leonard D. Adams, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia (Harper & Row, 1972); Peter Dale Scott, The War Conspiracy (Bobbs-Merrill, 1972); Henrik Krueger, The Great Heroin Coup (South End, 1980); Leslie Cockburn, Out of Control (Atlantic Monthly, 1987). Carlo Cortes, AP, Manila, Oct. 25, 1989.

22 South, "the business magazine of the developing world," October 1989; James Rupert and Steve Colt, "Guerrillas for God, Heroin Dealers for Man," WP weekly, May 21, 1990; Ahmed Rashid, Far Eastern Economic Review, Sept. 14, 1990. On Central America, see Leslie Cockburn, Out of Control.

23 Peter Brennan, Tico Times, July 28, 1989, reviewing earlier reports. Costa Rica subsequently attempted to extradite Hull from the U.S. on charge of participating in the 1984 La Penca bombing of a news conference in which four people were killed; Lindsey Gruson, NYT, Feb. 27, 1990. See Nina Wax and Michael Hardesty, "Drug Trade," Z magazine, April 1990.

24 Erlanger, NYT, Feb. 11, 1990.

25 NYT, Sept. 6; Carter, WSJ, Sept. 14, 1989.

26 AP, WSJ, Nov. 28, 1988; WSJ, Sept. 22, 1989; AP, Sept 27, 1989, reporting polls of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

27 AP, Sept. 27, 1989; Greve, Philadelphia Inquirer, Jan. 21, 1990; Waghelstein, Military Review, Feb. 1987. KEYWORDS terrorist democracy elections cia mossad bnd nsa covert operation 911 mi6 inside job what really happened wtc pentagon joint chiefs of staff jcs centcom laser hologram usa mi5 undercover agent female sex exploitation perception deception power anarchy green social democratic participation japanese spy black-op false flag gladio terror.

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