U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer asked the director of the Central Intelligence Agency on Wednesday to investigate the CIA's apparent role in the sale of cocaine in California by members of a CIA-run guerrilla organization.
Senator Barbara Boxer
Calls for CIA Probe
By Gary Webb and Pamela Kramer August 29, 1996 issue of the San Jose Mercury News
Citing a recent Mercury News investigation into the origins of the crack cocaine epidemic in black America, Boxer told CIA Director John Deutch that "even the notion that the U.S. government was involved in trafficking is sickening."
Mark Mansfield, a spokesman for the CIA, said Deutch was out of town and "has not yet received a letter from Sen. Boxer on this matter. He will, of course, respond after he's had an opportunity to review it."
Mansfield said the CIA was not currently looking into the situation because "charges of CIA involvement in such an operation are simply without merit. The CIA neither engages in nor condones narcotics trafficking."
The Mercury News' three-part series, which ran last week, showed how cocaine dealers working for the CIA's Nicaraguan Democratic Force (FDN) helped spawn a crack cocaine epidemic by selling massive amounts of cut-rate coke to the gangs of South Central Los Angeles throughout much of the 1980s.
The head of the drug ring's Southern California operation, a former Nicaraguan government official named Danilo Blandon, has admitted in federal court testimony that he and other exiles began selling drugs in black L.A. neighborhoods in 1982 to help finance the CIA's army, known in the U.S. as the Contras....
It is the second time in recent weeks that the CIA has been asked to look into apparent involvement by CIA operatives in drug smuggling and gun running.
The CIA's Inspector General announced on Aug. 6 that it would conduct an internal inquiry into an air base in Mena, Arkansas that was reportedly used in the mid-1980s to fly guns to the Contras, and drugs into Louisiana. The base, according to former National Security Council staffer Roger Morris, was run by a CIA and DEA informant named Barry Seal, who was murdered by Colombian gunmen in Baton Rouge in 1986.
Morris, who wrote a book on the topic recently, said in an interview that the CIA opened up a weapons-making facility near Mena, which provided guns to the Nicaraguan anti-Communists. The Inspector General's inquiry into Mena was requested by Rep Jim Leach, R-Iowa.
Boxer, in an interview, defended her decision to ask the CIA to investigate itself, saying that CIA director Deutch had promised to "change the culture" of the spy agency when Clinton appointed him in 1995.
"If they (the CIA) don't want to do it, there's always the possibility that the Congress will," Boxer said. But she said she was convinced Deutch shared her opinion that it was time to "clear the decks"' at the CIA.
"No one has ever really evaluated the role of the CIA in the post-Cold War period," Boxer said, noting that the Mercury News' investigation provided "a good place to start. I want to get to the bottom of this."
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