Hearings on the CIA and Drug Trafficking (1996)

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Hearings on the CIA and Drug Trafficking (1996)

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Just some notes I took on the intro and on Jack Blum's testimony. He was an investigator or lead consul for the Kerry Committee. Fred Hitz, CIA Inspector General, I believe testifies after.


OCTOBER 23, 1996 | Committee members heard testimony from experts and current administration officials concerning accusations by several members of Congress and others that the CIA sold drugs to U.S. citizens in the 1980s in order to finance covert operations against the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.

00:28 - Arlen Specter Begins
01:35 - "I note an extraordinarily high level of distrust in the government" Militia Movement, Ruby Ridge, Leonard Peltier
02:45 - Background - Summary of 'Dark Alliance' series and government and media response. Specter says twice: "We do not accept or endorse [the series]."
09:35 - Findings contrary to 'Dark Alliance' series.
13:30 - Remarks on the responsibilities of the committee.
14:05 - Senator Bob Kerry begins his remarks.
15:27 - Audience interruption at "I have confidence in [Mr. Hitz, CIA Inspector General] ability to get to the facts...".
17:35 - Sen. Kerry questions President Regan's policy of focusing on political situation in Nicaragua instead of addressing drug trafficking in Latin America. "This may have placed CIA personal into contact they otherwise may not have had with drug traffickers."
18:25 - Kerry comments on response to allegations in African-American community. "Democratic government can't last long if many of its own people view it as an enemy."
19:50 - Specter remarks on Ruby Ridge again.
21:01 - Brief remarks of Senator Charles Robb (D) VA.
21:46 - Mr. Jack Blum is introduced.
22:10 - Mr. Blum begins his testimony.
23:22 - Reasons for focus of problem on African-American community had to do with economic conditions.
24:20 - "No one on the staff of the CIA, as far as we could determine, was actively selling the drug."
24:40 - Contra leaders used profits to fund their lifestyles, not for funding their army.
25:30 - "[US] Policy makers absolutely closed their eyes to the criminal behavior of our allies ... policy makers ignored their drug-dealing, their stealing, and their human rights violations ... quietly undercutting law enforcement and human rights agencies that might have caused them difficulties".
26:17 - San Francisco "Frog Man" Case: $35,000 in drug proceeds returned to Contras by US Justice Department.
27:30 - "Cocaine available in such quantities, they could not find buyers... a flood of cocaine."
28:22 - "We were subjected to a systematic campaign to discredit everything we did" by Justice Dept. and Reagan Administration officials to keep stories out of the media.
29:20 - "Covert operations were undertaken on an ideological basis that verged on religious belief."
30:00 - Reagan Administration made huge mistake in ignoring the drug war in order to support the Contras.
30:40 - Suggests a review of relationship in general between covert operations and criminal organizations. "Criminal organizations are perfect allies for covert operations... do anything you want for money... problem is they gain influence by working with us ... then we can't control what they do."
32:00 - Notes problems with intelligence agencies training criminal groups in covert operations, who then go on to use those skills later. "Bay of Pigs veterans have shown up in everything from Watergate to the Letelier assassination."
32:55 - History of US government connection with the drug trade: Kuomintang Armies and allies in the Vietnam war funded themselves off of heroin.
33:56 - Allies of US in Afghanistan are in heroin business. Blum notes their connection to terrorism as well.
34:40 - Blum took testimony that Argentines sponsored "cocaine coup" in Bolivia, then laundered money in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and supported "anti-Communist" groups. Notes that Argentines were original trainers of the Contras. Argentine Generals thought that we would side with them in Falklands War.
36:30 - Manuel Noriega was on US payroll at $200,000 per year by the US government when it was known he was in the drug business.
37:20 - Multiple meetings between Lt. Col. Oliver North and Manuel Noriega.
38:00 - Reagan Administration cut off investigations of Government Accountability Office.
38:50 - Oliver North lawyers were allowed to expurgate his notebooks. The Senate never got them for their investigation, the administration then classified them.
40:00 - Specter asks why this executive privilege was not challenged.
41:00 - The "notebook situation" should be looked into by the committee.
41:40 - Haitian military drug trafficking into the United States.
42:15 - Honduran military drug trafficking, DEA office there was closed.
43:44 - CIA interfered with law enforcement agencies. Criminal cases "put aside". Oliver north directly intervened in cases with people who helped in the Contra's war.
46:30 - Specter asks question about cases interfered with in Los Angeles. Blum: "We didn't focus on LA but found such cases in Miami." Appeared that traffickers were allowed to continue operations in cases. Career threats against whistleblowers inside Justice Department.
49:19 - System for stopping customs inspections of inbound and outbound aircraft. No way of determining what was on plane or why inspection was stopped.
50:18 - False accusations made against enemies of Oliver North network.
51:20 - Summary and recommendations.
52:15 - Most important loss we had was loss of public trust...
52:57 - Need a look at entire 40-year history of intelligence/drug trafficking interaction.

Further testimony by Fred Hitz in video.
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