Drugs and the US Deep State


This is the text of a talk I gave at the Portsmouth NH library on September 7, 2016. The Portsmouth Herald article the next day was headlined, “Activist alleges links between CIA, drug epidemic.” In parenthetical footnotes, ADS refers to the book The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the Attack on US Democracy, by Peter Dale Scott (Rowman and Littlefield); and DS to The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government, by Mike Lofgren (Viking). A video of the talk, filmed by my friend Herb Moyer, can be seen here.



Thank you for having the courage, or curiosity, or commitment, or whatever drew you here tonight, for coming to this presentation. I hope that when I am finished, you will look at our nation in a new light, and that our trip tonight down the proverbial rabbit hole, into this very strange Wonderland the United States has become, will encourage you to become active in rejuvenating, actually re-creating democracy in America, and returning government to the hands of the people.


When the Seacoast 9/11 Questions group first started planning this presentation, we were hesitant about referring to the “Deep State” in the title. It’s not a familiar phrase yet to many Americans. And especially combined with the topic of drugs, it could mean most anything—deep state of consciousness; deep state of denial; deep state of hypnosis. Actually, all three would be appropriate in this case, as we shall see.


The term “Deep State,” as applied to a national government, was first used in Turkey in 1996. To quote from the recent book, The American Deep State, by Peter Dale Scott, the term referred to “United States-backed elements, primarily in the intelligence services and military, who had repeatedly used violence to interfere with and realign Turkey’s democratic political process.” [ADS p. 13]


We saw elements of Turkey’s US-backed Deep State still at work today in the recent attempted coup—a fact largely unmentioned in American media. The Turkish Deep State was also a key part of a post-World War II underground CIA operation in Europe called Operation Gladio, which targeted communist political parties all over Europe, and included terrorist bombings against European civilians, which were then blamed on the communists.


These are known as “false flag” operations.


It is said that “very few democracies can claim to be free from” their own Deep State [UK newsletter On Religion 7/4/13]. That is most certainly true of the United States.


The Deep State we’ll be discussing tonight is a what former Canadian diplomat Peter Dale Scott describes as a subterranean underworld, where Wall Street, the US intelligence community, the defense and oil industries, and sometimes the criminal element—drug dealers, gangsters or the occasional terrorist—meet.


The operations the American Deep State has concocted in the post-World War II period have significantly altered our nation’s history. They are still in operation today, to maintain rule by the oligarchy—as former president Jimmy Carter now describes our fallen democracy—the corporate oligarchy that now largely governs the United States.


Scott’s analysis may be the most radical of those who have recently explored the subject of an American Deep State. A more mainstream view comes from Mike Lofgren, a Republican Congressional staffer for 28 years, who finally got disgusted with the federal government’s dysfunction, and quit. Since then he has been exposing the truly corrupt nature of our current system, and both political parties, in bestsellers like The Party Is Over, and in his most recent book, The Deep State.


Lofgren defines the Deep State as “a hybrid association of key elements of government and parts of top-level finance and industry, that is effectively able to govern the United States, with only limited reference to the consent of the governed, as normally expressed through elections…


“It is the red thread that runs through the war on terrorism and the militarization of foreign policy; the financialization and deindustrialization of the American economy; the rise of a plutocratic social structure that has given us the most unequal society in almost a century; and the political dysfunction that has paralyzed day-to-day governance.” [DS p.5]


In other words, the Deep State is deeply ingrained in our system, and is at the center of our problems as a supposedly self-governing people. Remember, this description is coming from a guy who watched the Deep State in action from inside Congress, for almost three decades.


Both Peter Dale Scott and Mike Lofgren refer to a Washington Post series of articles on the military-industrial complex, Top Secret America, later turned into a book, as another view of the Deep State, particularly the connection between a recently privatized defense establishment and corporate America. Another recent book, by Tufts political science professor Michael Glennon, National Security and Double Government, floats another term for what is essentially the same phenomenon: “Double government,”—the permanent government, the national security state, including its private contractors.


But although former congressional staffer Lofgren openly admits that “Wall Street may be the ultimate owner of the Deep State,” [DS p.36] he and other mainstream treatments of the subject tend to avoid the darker, illegal aspects of the Deep State.


They also avoid a subject that Scott insists is key to understanding the Deep State. And that subject is drugs. Neither “drugs” nor “heroin” are words listed in the index of Lofgren’s book.


I agree with Professor Scott that drugs, and the money that drugs bring, are a key component of the operations of the Deep State, and have been for a very long time.


So we shall begin our discussion tonight with a brief look at the history of drugs in America, and how our national, historical infatuation with drugs has played so well into the hands of those who would rule us.


America has always had a drug problem. In the beginning, it was alcohol and tobacco. Foreign visitors to the young country would marvel at the amount of whiskey Americans drank all day long, and would report with disgust how the barrooms were thick with tobacco smoke, and the floors slick with tobacco juice.


And of course many farmers grew hemp, the less intoxicating form of the cannabis plant, which was used in many early American products. It’s unlikely that humanity’s millennia-old relationship with marijuana would have been forgotten in this period, and even George Washington’s farm journals report separating some female cannabis plants from the males (August 7, 1765). The only purpose of this process would be to prevent the females from being inseminated and growing seeds, so all the nutrients then go to the flower, making it more potent.


You can imagine George sitting in his rocker on the porch at Mount Vernon, puffing contentedly on his clay pipe, smoking some nice Alexandria Gold, and watching the Potomac River flow by. He was a contemplative guy, and besides, the marijuana provided relief from the pain of his dental problems.


Other drugs that are classified as illegal today, were also used as medicine in early America, and sold openly by pharmacists. Cocaine, hashish and opium were readily available from your doctor or apothecary, to treat a whole variety of ailments.


In the post-Civil War era, when there was still a frontier, America was a more free-wheeling culture than it is today—here in the age of the surveillance state. And as Alexis de Toqueville reported in 1830, America’s 19th-century inhabitants, in some respects—most notably if you were white and male—had more freedom in their personal behavior than we do today.


Of course, this freedom…to indulge…had both positive and negative aspects. For example, consider the health and lifespan of the average American citizen, then and now.


But freedom has rewards that many of us have forgotten today, and I think it is critical to reclaim that personal sense of freedom that we have gradually lost over the past century, if we hope, as functioning citizens, to reclaim our democracy.


It was in the early 20th century that America’s relationship with drugs began to change, and the control of drugs became much more of a government concern. This change in attitude had a lot to do with the rise of the Temperance movement, and the campaign against alcohol that ultimately ended with Prohibition.


There has been a deep Puritan streak in American culture from its earliest days. And combined with increased awareness of the health and social effects of alcohol in the then-new Progressive movement, and with the self-empowerment of women—who bore the brunt of alcohol’s effects on their families, and led the Temperance movement—prohibition of alcohol became official government policy in 1920—ratified by constitutional amendment.


And then prohibition was removed by constitutional amendment 13 years later, when the public finally realized what a tragic mistake it had been.


We are still living with the effects of alcohol Prohibition today. The criminal gangs and networks that formed during Prohibition to supply Americans with alcohol became the foundation of a criminal underworld that, in later decades, would supply the American public with the illegal substances we also craved, despite the fact that alcohol was legal again.


Some of you may recall the scene in the film The Godfather, where Mafia gang leaders met to discuss drug distribution in the cities. That scene is based on real events in the post-war period, that are also connected to the Deep State.


Although alcohol has always been viewed as America’s major drug problem, because of its widespread social effects, opium and its derivatives, morphine and heroin, also have a long history in this country.


Opium was introduced to European Americans in the mid-1800s by Chinese immigrants brought here to help build the western railroads. In reality, legends of the West like Wild Bill Hickok actually spent more time in opium dens than in saloons. Opium was a very popular drug on the western frontier.


Laudanum, which was opium mixed with alcohol, was used as medicine for a variety of ailments. The medicine show “doctors” who traveled from town to town usually had some opium derivative in the “snake oil” they sold—guaranteed to make you feel better! Ironically enough, opium was even promoted as a cure for alcoholism.


Morphine, another opium product, was developed as a pain killer around 1810. It was seen as a wonder drug by the medical profession, and widely used and prescribed throughout the 19th century. It wasn’t until after the Civil War, when so many people were using it to treat the chronic pain of their war wounds, that it became apparent that addiction to pain killers could be a problem.


The drug rehab website, Narconon, continues the story. “By 1874 the answer to this increasing problem was thought to be found in the invention of a new drug in Germany. This new wonder drug was called Heroin, after its German trademarked name. Heroin was imported into the United States shortly after it was invented. The sales pitch that created an instant market to American doctors and their morphine-addicted patients was that Heroin was a “safe, non-addictive” substitute for morphine.


“Hence, the heroin addict was born and has been present in American culture ever since.”


This intertwining of drugs and alcohol in the public mind, and the negative effects both were having on American communities, came to a head in the early 20th century. At the height of Prohibition, in 1930, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics was formed.


The first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, which, like the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, was in the Treasury Department, was a guy named Harry Anslinger. Anslinger had been a Prohibition agent and an anti-drug crusader for some time, and he got the appointment partly because his wife’s uncle was the Secretary of the Treasury, but also because he was seen as a straight arrow who could come in and clean up what was already a corrupt law enforcement operation—a persistent pattern in international drug enforcement to this very day.


The reason enforcement of drug and alcohol laws was given to the Treasury Department was that the federal laws regulating those substances were tax laws. So there has always been a financial component to drug regulation as well, where, for example, access to the banking system is controlled enough that illicit cash has to be filtered through specific channels, so that one criminal organization can be favored over another, as we’ve seen in a number of instances.


Corruption of the banking system has also been a persistent pattern in international drug enforcement that continues today.


The pattern for law enforcement that Anslinger set as the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics also, unfortunately, persists today.


In the first place, Anslinger ignored science in favor of his own anti-drug ideology. He was the principal witness in the congressional hearing for the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act, and his testimony completely disregarded the majority opinion of the medical experts he had consulted, that marijuana was relatively harmless, and mostly consisted of newspaper clippings with quotes of his own dire warnings about the “Devil Weed.”


Congress passed the bill in the dead of night. Since then, literally millions of people have suffered the consequences, of what one legal observer at the time called a “near comic…dereliction of legislative responsibility.”


We had an example of similar disregard for science just recently, from the drug warriors at the Drug Enforcement Agency. In the face of overwhelming evidence, hundreds of scientific studies, and thousands of years of use as a medicine—not to mention the fact that 25 states already have medical marijuana programs—the DEA last month refused to remove marijuana from a Schedule 1 classification, where it sits along with drugs like heroin and cocaine.


They claimed that marijuana has no proven medical uses. This would be just as comic as the original congressional deliberations that made marijuana illegal—if it weren’t so tragic, for so many people.


Another element in the pattern for drug enforcement set by Anslinger, and continuing today, is the use of deception and exaggeration in anti-drug propaganda—for example, the famous commercial of eggs frying, to illustrate the slogan, “This is your brain on drugs.”


Recently, the Seacoast Repertory Theater here in Portsmouth staged the musical, “Reefer Madness,” which was based on the 1930s movie with the same title—which was itself based on the ludicrous claims by Harry Anslinger that, “Marijuana is a shortcut to the insane asylum. Smoke marijuana cigarettes for a month and what was once your brain will be nothing but a storehouse of horrid specters. Hashish makes a murderer who kills for the love of killing out of the mildest mannered man who ever laughed at the idea that any habit could ever get him.”


These are the kinds of things the first commissioner of the Bureau of Narcotics was saying in congressional testimony.


A third element in the anti-drug pattern set by Anslinger is the use of outright racism, not only to gain the approval for harsh enforcement from a majority-white community, but also to help maintain that majority’s control and exploitation of minority communities.


Anslinger said, “The primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”


He said most pot smokers were “Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”


This kind of statement seems hilarious today, taken out of the context of the times. But he said this at a time when the lynching of black men was a fairly regular occurrence in the United States, and the ugly racist passions of those times were often encouraged with lurid sexual imaginings of black men and white women.


And anyone who thinks that racism does not continue to be central to the war on drugs today, only has to look at the disproportionate numbers of blacks and Hispanics in the nation’s jails and prisons, in what one scholar calls, “the new Jim Crow”; or to consider the only recently corrected disparities in sentencing between crack and powder cocaine; or to look at the documented differences in the way that white and black prisoners are physically treated, or stopped and frisked, or murdered by police.


Drug control and state control of the African American and Hispanic communities are inextricably and tragically linked, and have been from the beginning.


A final element in the pattern Anslinger pioneered, that we will consider tonight, is the outlawing of certain drugs—as society’s way of dealing with any social problems stemming from the use of those drugs, and controlling the flow and distribution of those drugs—which Anslinger had such a formative hand in establishing. As I mentioned earlier, one of the consequences of alcohol prohibition in the 1920s was the creation of international criminal networks, to supply an American demand only slightly squelched by the inconvenience of alcohol’s illegality.


And those international networks, already criminalized, then had an incentive to expand their customer base, by supplying other products, other drugs that this Christian nation—in a frenzied crusade of morality, good intentions, racism and anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant sentiment—had simultaneously outlawed along with alcohol, but nevertheless craved.


And because of their illegality, the value of these drugs increased exponentially, and they became a valuable commodity on the international black market. And the unaccountable liquid cash floating around inevitably became a source of corruption—of governments, armies and police departments—around the world. And because these funds lived and grew and flowed in the dark, they became the perfect medium for funding the covert operations of the American Deep State.


The first example of this cooperation between the criminal underworld and the Deep State we’ll look at tonight occurred not long after World War II—when the US government was already compromising its principles, in what it regarded as a life-and-death struggle with international communism. The Central Intelligence Agency, created by the 1947 National Security Act, was already smuggling former Nazi intelligence officers into the US, in what was known as Operation Paperclip, because these Nazis were assisting the Cold War offensive against America’s recently-scorned partner and ally, the Soviet Union.


So on that scale of morality—where Nazis are your friends—drug dealers and gangsters don’t really look so bad.


Before I continue this narrative, I’d like to inject here a personal disclaimer, of sorts.


My father was a career CIA officer, and worked for the CIA until just days before his premature death, now more than a quarter century ago. Over the years, I’ve had a number of friends and family members who have worked for the CIA or associated contractors. I myself worked for the CIA in my youth, during the summers and after school, in increasingly menial jobs, as my gregarious and dissident nature—both highly contrary to CIA culture—became more and more obvious to my employers. They were of course secretly glad to see me go, at the age of twenty.


All the CIA people I have personally known have been, without exception, good and decent people who believed in what they were doing. They sincerely see themselves as patriots, with the nation’s best interests at heart. And throughout the Cold War, communism was the enemy, and for them the gloves were off.


It’s important to consider that the Greatest Generation is also the generation who thought that what happened at Dresden and Hiroshima, with their horrific loss of civilian life from American bombing, was a good thing. We condemn the Syrian and Russian governments for that kind of thing, now. But principles were compromised in the name of patriotism throughout the Cold War, and that was true from the CIA’s infancy.


People in the CIA also kept to the doctrine of “need to know,” and so were often unaware of what other elements in the Agency were doing. And they didn’t want to know.


Jeff Stein, who covers intelligence matters for Congressional Quarterly [now working at Newsweek], has written about the two CIAs: the bureaucracy in Langley that the public knows; and what I would call the Deep State element, which is much more informal, less restricted by official budgets, and largely unknown to the public.


There is also a lot of deception that goes on within the Agency itself—for example, there is a process known as “eyewash,” where internal Agency memos containing deliberate falsehoods are distributed as a counterintelligence measure. In certain respects, working at the CIA really is like working in a hall of mirrors.


And finally, as I recall, the opinion that, sometimes, you have to use the evil tactics of your enemies, in order to effect the good ends that justify those tactics, was pretty widely held within the intelligence community. And the influence of “groupthink” in that community cannot be overestimated. The use of these evil tactics is generally regarded as an unfortunate necessity, where “plausible deniability” becomes a paramount virtue—as we’ll see in the case of CIA and drugs.


At any rate, with those considerations in mind, what really drew the CIA and the criminal element together, in so many cases in the postwar period, was mutual benefit.


There has always been a kind of symbiosis between law enforcement and gangsters. The evidence is now quite plain that prohibition not only creates criminals—in the first place, by making criminals of everyone involved with a particular prohibited substance—but it also creates networks of criminals that merge the prohibited substance with other trafficked productsweapons and sex slaves, for example—so that network then becomes a continuing presence in the underworld, along with the associated official corruption that is the inevitable byproduct of prohibition.


Then that underworld presence generates a counter-reaction of even more law enforcement—ultimately fruitless, because the criminal networks then adapt to the new tactics—and it becomes an endless cycle, in which both sides benefit: the criminals with increasing sophistication, and incentive and ability to spread and grow markets in all their illegal wares: drugs, prostitution, gambling, arms, whatever; and law enforcement, which benefits from ever-growing budgets and funding, and ever-more military-style equipment, and ever more deference from an ever more desperate public—including the media.


Now, the mutual benefit that the CIA got from its partnership with criminals was different.


First, a little about the origins of the CIA. The CIA was created with the 1947 National Security Act. Its foundations were in the OSS, the Office of Strategic Services, which was founded by William “Wild Bill” Donovan, a Wall Street lawyer, at the beginning of World War II. He brought other Wall Street lawyers like Allen Dulles into the OSS, which operated all over the world during World War II, in both the European and Pacific theaters.


After the war, Dulles was recruited to draft a proposal to set up the CIA, and he formed an advisory group of six men to help him with that, of whom all but one were Wall Street investment bankers or lawyers, and two of whom later joined Dulles at the CIA [ADSp.14]. So from the beginning, there was an Ivy League connection in the CIA, and a connection to old money and the banks and the old boy network of the ruling class.


There was also an air of ruling class privilege in the Agency that encouraged bending of the rules and derring-do, and a sense of being connected to the economic heart of the country, that, in their minds, allowed those privileged sons of the ruling class license to do whatever was necessary to preserve America’s rightful place at the top of the world, the savior and protector of democratic capitalism.


And the banking interests on Wall Street, which, as Franklin Roosevelt wrote in a private letter in 1933, have “owned the government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson,” now had their own public/private covert police agency


Now, the stage set, we enter the darkness where a government agency, from the moment of its creation, the product of a supposedly democratic republic, nevertheless finds its perfect companion in a violent and Hobbesian criminal underworld, which also inhabits that darkness.


One of the earliest documented connections between drug smugglers and the CIA that Peter Dale Scott mentions is related to Operation Gladio, which I mentioned earlier, and involved a CIA-connected labor organizer in Marseilles, France, who worked with a local drug smuggler to hire goons to beat up striking communist dock workers, after he had diverted Marshall Fund money to set up a business-friendly alternative union [ADSp.15].


In that one incident, you can see a number of elements that benefit the Deep State: greater business profits; neutralized worker outrage, diverted into a more complacent institution; reinforced feelings of powerlessness among the people; the ability to stop attempts at economic or social justice with a secret, lawless and unaccountable force.


The benefits for the criminal are obvious, too: more local power, and the ability to operate their enterprise with impunity because of their secret alliance with the state, which looks the other way. So of course, more profits for them, too.


It’s a win-win situation for everyone but average people, victimized by both sides.


The alliance between the intelligence community and the Mafia actually started during the war, when the OSS was cultivating relationships with the Sicilian Mafia, including Lucky Luciano, for their help against the Fascists in Italy; and after the war, against the Italian Communist Party. Luciano was given a pardon for his criminal activities for his help during the war, but was deported to Italy—where he then developed his heroin empire, and re-enlisted in the service of the new American empire by working with the Corsican drug smugglers in Marseilles against the Communists—including the incident I just mentioned.


By 1951, Luciano and the Corsicans had pooled their resources and created the network known as the French Connection—the heroin supply that the Mafia leaders were fictionally discussing in that scene in The Godfather, the heroin that would dominate the world heroin trade for the next twenty years, and the genesis of the first postwar heroin epidemic in America, brought to you in large part by the national security state, the Deep State, whose interests always take precedence over your own.


The following litany of CIA drug connections comes edited, but verbatim [without ellipses] from the Congressional Record, from a report prepared by the Institute for Policy Studies, that Representative John Conyers submitted into the record in May 1998:



The CIA recruits members of organized crime gangs in Japan to help ensure that the country stays in the anticommunist world. Several years later, the Japanese Yakuza emerges as a major source of methamphetamine in Hawaii.



Chinese Communist revolution causes collapse of drug empire allied with US intelligence community, but a new one quickly emerges under the command of a Nationalist (KMT) general who flees into eastern Burma. Seeking to rekindle anticommunist resistance in China, the CIA provides arms, ammunition and other supplies to the KMT. After being repelled from China with heavy losses, the KMT settles down with the local population and organizes and expands the opium trade from Burma and northern Thailand. By 1972, the KMT controls 80 percent of the Golden Triangle’s opium trade.



In support of the US war in Vietnam, the CIA renews old and cultivates new relations with Laotian, Burmese and Thai drug merchants, as well as corrupt military and political leaders in Southeast Asia. Despite the dramatic rise of heroin production, the agency’s relations with these leaders attracts little attention…



Manuel Noriega goes on the CIA payroll, and becomes an invaluable CIA asset when he takes charge of Panama’s intelligence service…providing services for US covert operations…In 1976, CIA director George Bush pays Noriega $110,000 for his services, even though as early as 1971, US officials had evidence that he was deeply involved in drug trafficking. Although the Carter administration suspends payments to Noriega, he returns to the US payroll when President Reagan takes office…



A Christian Science Monitor correspondent reports that that the CIA is ‘cognizant, if not party to, the extensive movement of opium out of Laos,’ quoting one charter pilot who claims that ‘opium shipments get special CIA clearance and monitoring on their way southward out of the country.’ At the time, some 30,000 US service men in Vietnam are addicted to heroin.”


(I’m going to insert a personal note here. The first heroin addict I ever met was my older cousin, Larry Hasty, who picked up the habit as a soldier in Vietnam. He stayed at our house outside DC after his court martial and discharge. My mother found the spoon he used to cook his heroin in the bathroom, after he returned home to California. He never kicked his heroin addiction, and he died a few years later. So this issue has some personal relevance for me.


Now, to continue with the Congressional Record…)



The full story of how Cold War politics and US covert operations fueled a heroin boom in the Golden Triangle breaks when Yale University doctoral student Alfred McCoy publishes his ground-breaking study, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia. The CIA attempts to quash the book.



Mexican police, assisted by US drug agents, arrest Alberto Sicilia Falcon, whose Tijuana-based operation was reportedly generating $3.6 million a week from the sale of cocaine and marijuana in the United States. The Cuban exile claims he was a CIA protégé, trained as part of the agency’s anti-Castro efforts, and in exchange for his help in moving weapons to certain groups in Central America, that CIA facilitated his movement of drugs. Sicilia’s top aide was a CIA-trained intelligence officer and Bay of Pigs veteran. Among the top Mexican politicians, law enforcement and intelligence officials from whom Sicilia enjoyed support was the head of DFS [Mexico’s FBI], who the CIA admits was its ‘most important source in Mexico and Central America.’ [When its most important source] is linked to a multi-million dollar stolen car ring several years later, the CIA intervenes to prevent his indictment in the United States.



Soviet-backed coup in Afghanistan sets stage for explosive growth in southwest Asian heroin trade. New Marxist regime undertakes vigorous anti-narcotics campaign aimed at suppressing poppy production, triggering a revolt by semi-autonomous tribal groups that traditionally raise opium for export. The CIA-supported Mujahedeen begins expanding production to finance their insurgency. Between 1982 and 1989, during which time the CIA ships billions of dollars and other aid to guerilla forces, annual opium production in Afghanistan increases to about 800 tons from 250 tons. By 1986, the State Department admits that Afghanistan is ‘probably the world’s largest producer of opium for export, and ‘the poppy source for a majority of the Southwest Asian heroin found in the United States.’ US officials, however, fail to take action to curb production.



DEA agent Enrique ‘Kiki’ Camarena is kidnapped and murdered in Mexico. DEA, FBI and US Customs Service investigators accuse the CIA of stonewalling during their investigation. US authorities claim the CIA is more interested in protecting its assets, including top drug trafficker Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo. Gallardo’s main partner is a Honduran drug lord who receives $186,000 from the US State Department to fly ‘humanitarian supplies’ to the Nicaraguan Contras from 1983 to 1985. Accusations that the CIA protected some of Mexico’s leading drug traffickers in exchange for their financial support of the Contras are leveled by government witnesses at the trials of Camarena’s accused killers.



The Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Communications issues its report on drug corruption in Central America and the Caribbean. The subcommittee found that ‘there was substantial evidence of drug smuggling through the war zone on the part of individual Contras, Contra suppliers, Contra pilots, mercenaries who worked with the Contra supporters throughout the region.’ US officials, the committee said, ‘failed to address the drug issue for fear of jeopardizing the war efforts against Nicaragua.’ The investigation also reveals that some ‘senior policy makers’ believed that the use of drug money was ‘a perfect solution to the Contras’ funding problems.’”


The 1998 report in the Congressional Record takes us to the 21st century, whose opening decade is also the beginning of the 4th postwar surge in heroin use in the United States—all four corresponding to a CIA covert action: the French Connection in the ‘50s and ‘60s; Southeast Asia in the ‘60s and ‘70s; Afghanistan in the ‘80s and ‘90s; and now Afghanistan again in the 21st century. And let’s not forget the terrifying crack cocaine epidemic in the ‘80s and ‘90s, also corresponding to a major US covert action, against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua.


What is different in the 21st century is the unfortunately related problem of prescription opioid addiction, which began about the same time as the upsurge in heroin use. And, since we left the Afghanis to sort things out for themselves following the Soviet exit from Afghanistan, which individual warlords financed largely through the profits of the opium industry, the global drug trade had diverted and become more sophisticated and regional. So although Afghanistan continues to produce most of the world’s heroin, most heroin coming into the US now comes from Mexico—presumably through some of the same networks established in the Contra war—and Colombia, also the site of a US dirty war—against leftist guerillas, in this case—while most Afghan heroin goes to the larger markets of Europe and Russia, the nation with the world’s worst heroin problem per capita, triple the size of America’s problem, probably due in some part to Russia’s proximity to the world’s largest heroin supply.


There is another curious anomaly about the beginning of the 21st century.


At the end of the civil war in Afghanistan, among the rival factions of the mujahedeen army that the CIA had left behind to establish a national government, the victors who came to power in 1996 were the Taliban—crude Islamic right wingers who immediately began to alienate the rest of the world with their extreme restrictions on Afghan women—who a little more than a decade before had walked the streets of Kabul in high heels and skirts, their faces and hair exposed, under secular Soviet occupation—and with the Taliban’s ignorant and destructive assaults on some of Afghanistan’s most revered archeological treasures, which the rest of the world rightly viewed as a common human heritage.


In a bid for international legitimacy for his government, in 2000 the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, ordered an end to opium cultivation in Afghanistan, which even then supplied most of the world’s opium. And in 2001, opium production in Afghanistan was reduced by 97 percent.


A few other curious things happened in 2001. In the summer of 2001, Taliban leaders were escorted around Washington DC, and visited in Kabul by lobbyists for US corporate interests, including Laila Helms, the niece of former CIA director Richard Helms, [who was a PR representative for the Taliban in Washington], and Hamid Karzai, an Afghan who represented the oil giant Unocal in its effort to build a new pipeline across Afghanistan.


Additionally, there was diplomatic pressure put on the Taliban to open its economy and resources to Western interests. A Taliban representative at a conference in Berlin in August 2001 was told by a US diplomat that, in its relations with America, the Taliban could have either “a carpet of gold or a carpet of bombs.”


Then of course in September of 2001, the world changed. And in October, the Taliban got their carpet of bombs.


The odd thing is, the Taliban had offered to turn over Osama bin Laden to the US, if the US would produce the evidence that he was involved in the September 11th attacks. But the US declined to produce that evidence. And the evidence that the US did finally produce, in the 9/11 Commission report, was primarily the result of torture, and at any rate unavailable in 2001. To the end of his life, Osama bin Laden’s FBI most-wanted listing did not include the 9/11 attacks, because, by their own admission, the FBI hadn’t seen enough evidence to include them.


According to former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds—who has been described as “the most gagged person in America”; and whose public testimony before Congress about what she knows about 9/11 was classified as secret by the CIA, after she had already publicly testified; and whose testimony to the 9/11 Commission is entirely missing from their final report—the reason for the September 11th attacks was drugs.


She also said that bin Laden was working for the CIA until the very morning of September 11th.


Since so much of what she had to say is missing from the public record, and before anyone in the audience starts screaming “conspiracy theory”—a term invented by the CIA in 1964 to neutralize public doubts about the very dubious official explanation of the JFK assassination, and which has proven to be one of the most effective propaganda tools ever devised, an all-purpose term of ridicule so successful that today it gets over 6 million Google hits—let’s take a look at why Sibel Edmonds is probably right.


Sibel Edmonds is a Turkish American who was hired by the FBI to translate communications intercepted from her native country. Recall that Turkey’s own Deep State has played an important role for the American Deep State ever since World War II, when the OSS had an office in Istanbul. And after the war, with the anticommunist, covert and often violent Operation Gladio. And then when Lucky Luciano imported heroin from Marseilles, and shipped it on to the US in the French Connection. Turkey has always been an important transshipment point for heroin.


Thanks to a deposition she gave in a civil lawsuit, we actually do know something about Sibel Edmonds’ testimony. She gave the deposition in response to a subpoena, and perhaps for that reason, was never charged with violating the state secrets gag order she has been under since her congressional testimony about 9/11. Neither was she charged with committing perjury.


So presumably, her testimony in the civil suit—about a network of corruption in Turkey that also involved high-level officials from the US State Department and Congress, from both political parties—is true.


And she names names—important names, like Dennis Hastert, former Republican Speaker of the US House of Representatives, and current federal prisoner. Yet she’s never been charged with perjury, and never been sued for libel.


And her testimony in that civil suit has nevertheless never been reported in American mainstream media—even her accusations against Hastert, when Hastert was being publicly shamed for his sexual crimes, and despite the fact that her original testimony to Congress and subsequent gag order were fairly widely reported at the time.


Doesn’t that seem strange?


Additionally, there are other circumstances that connect 9/11 and drugs. Remember, in 2001, Afghanistan’s opium production—the major source of the world’s heroin since the CIA’s mujahedeen war—under the orders of the Taliban, had fallen to practically zero. I’ll now let Balkan security analyst Ioannis Michaletos continue the argument, as he did at a recent conference on opium geopolitics:


“In December 2009, the UN drugs and crime czar Antonio Maria Costa claimed that illegal drug money saved the banking industry from collapse. He claimed he had seen evidence that the proceeds of organized crime were ‘the only liquid investment capital’ available to some banks on the brink of collapse. Thus, the Balkan heroin route, for instance [the major smuggling route out of Turkey], apart from a multi-billion dollar illicit trade path, is also one generating profits indirectly to corporations thriving in the legal market, such as banks…The aforementioned UN official was replaced soon thereafter in 2010, while over the past few years drug related connections have been found in major world financial institutions such as HSBC, Wachovia Bank, Citigroup, Standard Chartered, Bank of America, Western Union, JP Morgan Chase and others.”


So the Taliban’s 2001 halt in Afghan opium production was actually a brilliant assault on global capitalism, right to and right at the heart of Wall Street, itself the ever-beating black heart of the American Deep State—the primary source of Afghanistan’s years-long suffering.


What better symbol of resistance, then, than a suicide attack on the World Trade Center, the just-missed target of Al Qaeda’s 1993 truck bomb, and New York Port Authority’s glaring white elephant, which would soon require a multi-million dollar asbestos removal to remain commercially viable, anyway?


Except the Taliban didn’t want to attack global capitalism. They were in negotiations for an oil pipeline across their country. And they offered to turn Osama bin Laden over, if the US showed them the evidence, but CIA brat George W. Bush just brushed them off, and bombed them anyway.


But that’s not the only thing that is weird about September 11th. And I’m not just talking about the fact that both the bipartisan chairs of the 9/11 Commission, Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton, complained afterwards that they had been lied to, repeatedly, in testimony from government agencies, especially the military;

or how the staff director of the 9/11 Commission report, a former aide to Condoleeza Rice who did his doctoral work on influencing public opinion, had already prepared the outline for the report, before a single piece of evidence had been collected;

or even how the mysterious collapse of World Trade Center Building 7, late in the afternoon on September 11th, the third skyscraper to fall that day and the only one not hit by a plane, just happened to destroy the New York offices of the CIA and other federal agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, which held the entire record of SEC’s investigation of the Bush family’s longtime friends in the oil industry, the Enron Corporation.


No, I’m talking specifically now about two government reports about September 11th, from two separate federal agencies, that raise significant questions about the events of that day.


The first comes from the US Geological Survey (USGS), and concerns the dust that resulted from the World Trade Center’s destruction.


In the ashes of every fire, there are tiny iron microspheres that form when say, the heat reacts with the rust on a nail head, and it pops and a piece of hot metal flies off. The spherical form that results as that little piece of metal cools in the air is an indication of the explosive force that sent it flying.


The problem in the World Trade Center dust is that the government analysts found more iron microspheres than would normally be expected. Way more. Not 10 times more. Not 20 times more. Not even 50 times more. Not even 100 times more. The USGS analysts found 150 times more iron microspheres in the World Trade Center dust than they expected—indicating some kind of explosive force in the collapse. They couldn’t explain this phenomenon, and recommended a followup study [“more analyses are needed”].


To this date, 15 years later, that followup study has not been done.


The second report comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), who investigated the steel supports in the World Trade Center. Now the first thing to know about this report is that everyone who has investigated the World Trade Center destruction, official and unofficial alike, agrees that the fires in the buildings never got anywhere near hot enough to melt steel.


In the ruins of the World Trade Center buildings, FEMA investigators found pieces of steel beams that show “evidence of a severe high temperature corrosion attack on the steel” resulting in ”intergranular melting.” The report goes on. “A liquid mixture formed during this hot corrosion attack on the steel, and penetrated down the steel, severely weakening the beam and making it susceptible to erosion.”


This description sounds much like the published effects of nanothermite, a high tech US military explosive, evidence of which a former Brigham Young University physics professor found in privately-collected samples of World Trade Center dust.


The FEMA investigators conclude this section of the report by describing the phenomenon they’ve observed as a “very unusual event,” for which “no clear explanation…has been identified.” They also recommend a further “detailed study.” And again, in 15 years, no further study has been done.


It is ironic in the extreme that two federal agencies were among the ranks of the earliest 9/11 Truthers. But there’s a certain comfort—or terror, take your pick—in knowing that they are just as ignored as the rest of us.


When the FEMA report was released in 2002, the New York Times described the findings as “perhaps the biggest mystery of the investigation”—and then never mentioned it again.


And that, my friends, is the Deep State in operation.


Shortly after the CIA, along with the US military this time, invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, opium production ramped up across the country, which quickly regained its spot as the world’s number one producer of opium, where it has remained throughout the 15 years of US occupation. The explosion in production in the first few years, along with the liquid capital that moved the product around the globe, kept the world’s banks afloat throughout the Great Recession. For most of the past 15 years, one of the biggest drug traffickers in the country has been the brother of Afghanistan’s first post-Taliban president, Hamid Karzai, oil man and by some accounts, longtime CIA asset.


In 2003, Alfred McCoy, now a professor, released a revised edition of his book, The Politics of Heroin—this time with the subtitle, CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade. In this later edition, he quotes the CIA director of the mujahedeen war, Charles Cogan.


“Our main mission was to do as much damage as possible to the Soviets,” Cogan says. “We didn’t really have the resources or the time to devote to an investigation of the drug trade. I don’t think that we need to apologize for this. Every situation has its fallout. There was fallout in terms of drugs, yes. But the main objective was accomplished. The Soviets left Afghanistan.”


In 2010, McCoy published an article in the Asia Pacific Journal and Tom Dispatch. He described US-occupied Afghanistan as a failed “narco-state.”


I first started thinking about doing some kind of event on this subject not long after I moved to Maine four years ago. I had moved here in the middle of a dramatic upsurge in heroin and opioid use, and of course the inevitable deaths associated with that use, and a growing panic among the public about this situation.


Having been a student of the Deep State and its handmaiden, the American propaganda system, for most of my life, I couldn’t help but notice that, in the millions of words being spouted about this dramatic epidemic in local newspapers and on radio and TV, global heroin supply was virtually never discussed. Of course I don’t read everything, but I can only recall one recent article that mentioned where America’s heroin was coming from, and it contained only the vaguely inaccurate information that most of it comes from Mexico, without mentioning the Colombian heroin that mostly supplies the East, and the Afghan heroin that still comes into New England from the north.


And the CIA heroin connection is never discussed. I couldn’t even get a notice about this talk tonight in the local periodicals—none of them, as far as I’ve been able to find [with the exception of the New Hampshire Gazette].


What I’ve also noticed is that, among elected officials, the historic, well-documented, and continuing relationship between the CIA and drugs is never mentioned—not that it is anywhere else in the country, either.


But what I really noticed is that, when the 2016 presidential carnival came to New Hampshire, and the opioid crisis here became a major presidential campaign issue, still, not a single presidential candidate, among them representing the entire range of permissible American political opinion, not a single one of either party—as far as  I know—mentioned the historic and continuing connection between the CIA and heroin, despite the fact that CIA is an executive branch agency, under the direct authority of the president—supposedly—who–theoretically, constitutionally—could order CIA to take immediate action against the problem.


The fact that not a single candidate mentioned that connection is the very essence of the Deep State.


We are in deep trouble. American democracy—what’s left of it, anyway—is in trouble. The world is in trouble. According to a recent analysis, you humans sitting in these chairs tonight are more likely to die from a human extinction event than a car accident. And that unfortunate situation is the direct result of policies that benefit the corporate interests behind the Deep State, and whose rapacious policies have turned the entire Earth into a commodity, and in the process, are turning Earth into Mordor, the dead landscape of the Lord of the Rings, unfit for human habitation.


We think we live in a democracy, but we don’t. We think we have a free press, but we don’t. We think that the Matrix of illusion that the media presents about America and the world is reality, but it isn’t.


The Deep State is our mortal enemy. But until we take the red pill, and awaken from our slumber, we will not realize that, and we will continue to think of the Deep State as our friend, who protects us from monsters, all around the world.


And until we waken from our slumber, we will never, never end our nation’s heroin epidemic.


The only way we as a society will gain control of our heroin problem is to awaken from our civic slumber, remember our duties as American citizens, and re-establish our true and living democracy—street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood, town by town, state by state—until we the people can once again reclaim our American republic, until we the people—nonviolently, but it can be done—overthrow the Deep State.


Thank you.


About Free Radical Maine

Free Radical Maine is the blog of Michael (Mike) Hasty, a lifelong activist, writer, musician and carpenter.
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