FBI . political police
With the US Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) accusing the world’s marijuana cultures of collusion with terrorists, it’s instructive to look at times in the past when the US was faced with foreign threats, and the role of its intelligence organizations during times of crisis.
In their gutsy 1988 book Agents of Repression, authors Ward Churchill and Jim Vander detailed how the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are political police similar to Hitler’s SS, rounding up and jailing thousands of innocent people whenever US leaders feel politically exposed. Created in 1906, and originally named the Bureau of Investigation (BoI), the agency began rounding up political activists after congress passed the Espionage Act in 1917 and the Alien and Sedition Act in 1918, both of which made “seditious utterances” illegal during the war.
To whip up public support in 1919, the BoI bombed corporate and government facilities around the US, including the Attorney General’s home in Washington DC, and then scattered anarchist leaflets in the rubble. In the following years, tens of thousands of labor unionists, anarchists, socialists, communists, political radicals and immigrants were beaten, arrested and assassinated to protect Americans from the fake bomb scare.
During the 1960’s the FBI developed a counter-intelligence program called COINTELPRO, which targeted minority and counterculture activist movements. Federal agents infiltrated activist groups, set up fake organizations to weasel their way in, had sex and long-term relationships with their members, spread disinformation about them, fabricated evidence against them, created splits in their ranks, and assassinated and arrested their leaders on false charges.
Churchill and Vander claim that these tactics were used successfully to subvert both the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement, as well as being used by the FBI in an attempt to drive Martin Luther King to suicide. These tactics were also used to jail and then deport black leader Marcus Garvey over false charges, and against the hippie and drug culture icons of the 60’s and 70’s, including legendary Youth International Party radical Abbie Hoffman. The FBI had agents in every significant social and political movement in North America, and there is no reason to believe that they have stopped this practice.
In his out-of-print book Deep Cover, Former FBI agent Cril Payne revealed the FBI’s role as cross-border political police, infiltrating Canada’s marijuana culture during the 60’s when terrorism threatened the American psyche as it does today. Payne’s mission was to track down the elusive Weathermen, a radical student group with ties to the University of California’s Berkeley campus, credited with blowing up a statue of a policeman in Chicago in 1969. Then, in 1970, after telling the world that they would “blast away the myths of the total superiority of The Man,” bombs exploded at the Santa Barbara National Guard Armory, a California courtroom, an ROTC building in Seattle, and the University of California in Berkeley. Afterward, the Weathermen fled to Canada, and Cril Payne followed.
Payne ? a clean-cut lad who was dismayed at being rejected for the Vietnam draft ? went undercover into British Columbia’s hippie culture, replete with marijuana growers and political activists. A seemingly unusual FBI agent, Payne’s sensitivity and compassion eventually turned against him. Convinced that his mission was not only illegal but immoral, he never found the Weathermen but did succeed in impregnating one of his targets, a young hippie woman with suspected ties to the Weathermen, before abandoning his quest and his job. Today, Payne’s one-man mission seems paltry compared to the increased presence the FBI seeks in Canada and abroad.
The recently-passed US anti-terrorism PATRIOT Act extends the FBI’s powers to investigate both in foreign countries and at home. This is much like the espionage and sedition acts of the early 1900’s, which empowered the FBI to round up tens of thousands of innocent people during and after World War I, and throw them into jail on suspicion of anarchism.
With the ONDCP pointing the finger of terrorism at the marijuana culture, who is the FBI after now?
DEA . the blind eye
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) deals drug war death in over 56 countries. In every one of these countries, the DEA targets the little guy, often crushing innocent, small-fry operations that barely support a single family.
The DEA’s latest plan is to smash British Columbia’s marijuana economy. “Canadian officials estimate that cannabis cultivation in British Columbia is a billion-dollar industry and that traffickers smuggle a significant portion of their harvest into the United States,” reads a DEA December 2000 drug intelligence brief titled BC Bud: Growth of the Canadian Marijuana Trade.
The brief credits Vancouver with producing the very first sophisticated hydroponics grow technology, and with having “2000 to 3000 greenhouses in [its]jurisdiction alone.” Last year, the DEA opened an office in Vancouver to supplement their one in Ottawa, and Canadian cops seem happy to do their bidding (CC#34, DEA in BC).
Although US law prohibits DEA agents from actively arresting suspects or from enforcement actions in foreign countries without the consent of foreign officials, in reality, the DEA usually has a blank check of consent. It routinely conducts and directs investigations in every country that they have an office.
In January, 2001 the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation show The Fifth Estate revealed that Canadian RCMP officers routinely prioritized helping the DEA over enforcement of Canadian laws (CC#31, US drug-war in Canada!)
According to ex-DEA agent Celerino Castillo III’s revealing 1994 book, Cocaine, Contras and the Drug War, it is apparently common DEA practice in foreign countries to pay off informants, snoop on citizens and even rough up or assassinate the occasional drug-dealer.
In the DEA Foreign Cooperative Investigations info-package, the agency describes some of their other approved tactics, including indicting foreign drug smugglers in the US and then extraditing them, convicting them and seizing their assets.
According to the DEA information, they also proudly engage in “institution building.” In reality, institution building refers to the practice of lobbying government officials, bribing prosecutors and goading police officials for harsh drug war enforcement and long jail terms for offenders.
In Bolivia, for example, the DEA has its own office building, where it gives government prosecutors special offices and pays them indecent bonuses worth more than their take-home pay for successful drug cases, thereby filling the courts with poverty-stricken coca leaf farmers who cannot afford an attorney to represent them. Other approved tactics include sponsoring and financing anti-drug training to local police, teaching them to hate and destroy pot people.
When the DEA gets a foothold in a country, it usually expands its operations quickly. The DEA’s first foreign-country offices in Turkey and France in the 1940’s comprised but a few agents, working to curb heroin smuggling to the states, and quickly grew into a large enterprise with hundreds of agents by the 60’s and 70’s.
The eye-opening 1998 book Whiteout: the CIA, Drugs and the Press, by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St Clair, shows that, while the DEA ruthlessly persecute mom and pop grows, they routinely turn a blind eye to CIA-sanctioned drug trafficking. From the very beginning, the notorious Harry Anslinger ? largely responsible for US marijuana prohibition and director of the agency that would eventually become the DEA ? had an agreement with the CIA to keep his agents out of South East Asia, where the CIA built complex protection-rackets for favored drug smugglers like the Kuomintang army. The CIA used these smuggling operations throughout Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
Ex-DEA agent Cele Castillo stuck his finger in the DEA’s blind eye in mid-80’s, when he discovered the CIA’s drugs-for-guns racket with US-backed Contra rebels in Nicaragua. In his 1994 book Powderburns: Cocaine, Contras and the Drug War, Castillo tells how he was ignored, bribed and threatened when he tried to get higher-ups to investigate the case.
In a recent interview with Cannabis Culture, Evo Morales, a Bolivian Congressman and president of the Andean Confederation of Coca Leaf Producers, complained about how coca leaf farmers were the targets of routine raids, while powder cocaine traffickers and refiners in Bolivian cities were left virtually untouched (CC#37, Bolivian peasants or narco-terrorists?)
Similarly, in Afghanistan, the rebel forces that helped overthrow the Taliban did so with the help of heroin dollars, and now that the Taliban are gone, record numbers of poppies bloom.
CIA . worldwide drugs unlimited
With so many whistle blowers and books alerting the world to the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) role in instigating civil wars to unseat democratically elected governments ? and dealing drugs to fund their atrocities ? the only shock that’s left is that so little has been done to bring them to justice.
CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, written by 14-year CIA veteran Victor Marchetti and former State Department intelligence official John D Marks, was the first book to explode into the American psyche in 1974. The book contained proof of the CIA’s role in subverting governments around the world, and their responsibility for the assassination of leftist leaders like Che Guevera. It was also the first book ever to be subject to prepublication editing by the US government, in this case the CIA itself.
According to reports from countless books, newspaper articles and investigations since the release of CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, the CIA’s typical game plan is to start by creating massive, CIA-controlled, extremely violent drug cartels and wipe out all of the competition. Books that detail the CIA technique include the 1999 Drugging America: A Trojan Horse by former FAA inspector Rodney Stich and the 1994 CIA: Cocaine in America? by former CIA agent Kenneth C Bucchi. According to Bucchi, the once-powerful Medellin cartel, run by the wealthy (and now dead) Pablo Escobar, took shape with help from the CIA.
CIA-protected drug smuggling meant more guns or cash for groups that would support US military efforts and politics in countries like Vietnam, Laos, Afghanistan and Colombia. Extensive details are provided in The Conspirators by Al Martin, published in 2001.
Looking at the picture as a whole, we see that the CIA uses illegal drug running to fund military operations and overthrow democratic governments, the FBI illegally infiltrates and subverts political activists and protest organizations, while the DEA eliminates competition and keeps public attention diverted elsewhere.
As we enter a new era of global drug narks, with new agencies being stitched together from the DEA, CIA and FBI, we may see world governments overthrown, our brothers and sisters imprisoned or killed, and our economies devastated. It is little consolation that there will be no short supply of CIA-sanctioned heroin, cocaine and marijuana on the streets to dull the pain.