I am probably the only reviewer who was a clandestine case officer (three back to back tours), who participated in the Central American follies as both a field officer and a desk officer at CIA HQS, who is also very broadly read.
With great sadness, I must conclude that this book is truthful, accurate, and explosive.
The book lacks some context, for example, the liberal Saudi funding for the Contras that was provided to the National Security Council (NSC) as a back-door courtesy.
There are three core lessons in this book, supported by many books, some of which I list at the end of this review:
1) The US Government cannot be trusted by the people. The White House, the NSC, the CIA, even the Justice Department, and the Members of Congress associated with the Administration’s party, are all liars. They use “national security” as a pretext for dealing drugs and screwing over the American people.
2) CIA has come to the end of its useful life. I remain proud to have been a clandestine case officer, but I see now that I was part of the “fake” CIA going through the motions, while extremely evil deeds were taking place in more limited channels.
3) In the eyes of the Nicaraguan, Guatemalan, and Honduran people, among many others, the US Government, as represented by the CIA and the dark side Ambassadors who are partisan appointees rather than true diplomats, is evil. It consorts with dictators, condones torture, helps loot the commonwealths of others, runs drugs, launders money, and is generally the bully on the block.
I have numerous notes on the book, and will list just a few here that are important “nuggets” from this great work:
1) The CIA connection to the crack pandemic could be the crime of the century. It certainly destroys the government’s moral legitimacy in the eyes of the people.
2) The fact that entrepreneur Ricky Ross went to jail for life, while his supplier, Nicaraguan Blandon, was constantly protected by CIA and the Department of Justice, is a travesty.
3) Nicaragua, under Somoza, was the US Government’s local enforcer, and CIA was his most important liaison element. As long as we consort with 44 dictators (see Ambassador Palmer’s “The Real Axis of Evil,” we should expect to be reviled by the broader populations.
4) I believe that beginning with Henry Kissinger, the NSC and the CIA have had a “eugenics” policy that considers the low-income blacks to be “expendable” as well as a nuisance, and hence worthy of being targeted as a market for drugs to pull out what income they do have.
5) I believe that CIA was unwitting of the implications of crack, but that Congress was not. The book compellingly describes the testimony provided to Congress in 1979 and again in 1982, about the forthcoming implications of making a cocaine derivative affordable by the lowest income people in our Nation.
6) The Administration and Congress, in close partnership with the “mainstream media,” consistently lied, slandered witnesses to the truth, and generally made it impossible for the truth to be “heard.”
7) The ignorance of the CIA managers about the “ground truth” in Nicaragua and Honduras, and their willingness to carry out evil on command from the White House, without actually understanding the context, the true feelings of the people, or even the hugely detrimental strategic import of what they were about to do to Los Angeles, simply blow me away. We need to start court-martialling government employees for being stupid on the people’s payroll.
8) CIA officers should not be allowed to issue visas. When they are under official cover they are assigned duty officer positions, and the duty officer traditionally has access to the visa stamp safe for emergencies (because the real visa officers are too lazy to be called in for an emergency).
9) I recently supported a movie on Ricky Ross, one that immediately won three awards in 2006 for best feature-length documentary, and I have to say, on the basis of this book, that Rick Ross was clearly not a gang member; was a tennis star and all-around good guy, was trying to make school grades; was disciplined, professional, and entrepreneurial. He did not create the cocaine, he did not smuggle it into the country, he simply acted on the opportunity presented to him by the US Government and its agent Blandon.
10) There is a connection between CIA, the private sector prison managers in the US, and prisoners. This needs a more careful look.
11) Clinton’s bodyguards (many of whom have died mysteriously since then) were fully witting of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s full engagement in drug smuggling into the US via Arkansas, and CIA’s related nefarious activities.
12) CIA not only provided post-arrest white washes for its drug dealers, but they also orchestrated tip-offs on planned raids.
13) Both local police departments, especially in California, and the US Government, appear to have a standard “loot and release” program where drug dealers caught with very large amounts of cash (multiple millions) are instantly freed in return for a quit claim on the money.
14) CIA Operations Officers (clandestine case officers) lied not just to the FBI and Justice, but to their own CIA lawyers.
15) DEA in Costa Rica was dirtier than most, skimming cash and protecting drug transports.
The book ends with a revelation and an observation.
The revelation: just prior to both the Contra drug deals and the CIA’s ramping up in Afghanistan, which now provides 80% of the world’s heroin under US administration, the CIA and Justice concluded a Memorandum of Understanding that gave CIA carte blanche in the drug business.. The author says this smacked of premeditation, and I agree.
The observation: here is a quote from page 452: ” …the real danger the CIA has always presented–unbridled criminal stupidity, clouded in a blanked of national security.”
Shame on us all. It’s time to clean house.
Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’
The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade
Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America, Updated edition
The Big White Lie: The Deep Cover Operation That Exposed the CIA Sabotage of the Drug War : An Undercover Odyssey
Kill the Messenger: How the CIA’s Crack-Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb
The Crimes of Patriots: A True Tale of Dope, Dirty Money, and the CIA
From BCCI to ISI: The Saga of Entrapment Continues
Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil
Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World’s Last Dictators by 2025
Fog Facts : Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin (Nation Books)