The Skeptic Tank Chairman comments: I have received this material from +quot;Larry-Jennie+

---
Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

The Skeptic Tank Chairman comments: I have received this material from "Larry-Jennie", (lar-jen@interaccess.com) on Sat, 11 Jan 1997 at 08:37:59 -0600, under the subject heading "CIA drugs: Urban legend?" It came in with various other files which I've enumerated below. There is further materials of the same nature to be found at ftp://pencil.cs.missouri.edu/pub/mena/ though I have not examined them. I have left the text alone however I have reformatted it to make it easier to read. - Fredric L. Rice, (frice@stbbs.com) (818) 335-9601 24 hours C:\WWFILES\NORTH6IC.TXT, C:\WWFILES\BLUMCIA.TXT, C:\WWFILES\UPI11106.TXT, C:\WWFILES\CAQ59.TXT, C:\WWFILES\SJMREBUT.TXT, C:\WWFILES\SJMCIA26.TXT -=- Begin text -=- A letter the Post refused to print. November 3, 1996 11:24 AM By: Gareth Gordon Mercury News Executive Editor Jerry Ceppos' Letter to the Washington Post Oct. 18, 1996 The Post's 5,000-word Oct. 4. critique of our series about drug dealers who were linked to the CIA obscures the key issue: The year-long investigation by the San Jose Mercury News established that cocaine dealers working with the CIA-sponsored contras sold large amounts of cocaine powder that was turned into crack in predominantly black neighborhoods of Los Angeles at the time that the crack epidemic was beginning there, and some of the drug profits were sent to the contras to buy war supplies. The Post did not disagree with that key finding but did raise other questions. For example, did a reading of our series lead to the conclusion -- a conclusion the Post apparently reached -- that the CIA is directly responsible for the outbreak of the crack epidemic in Los Angeles? While there is considerable circumstantial evidence of CIA involvement with the leaders of the drug ring, we never reached or reported any definitive conclusion on CIA involvement. Do we bear responsibility for making the limits of our reporting as clear as possible? Of course -- and we think we did so quite carefully. We reported that men selling cocaine in Los Angeles met with people paid by the CIA. We reported that they received fund- raising orders from people paid by the CIA. We reported that the money raised was sent to a CIA-run operation. But we did not go further -- and took pains to say that clearly. Another important question raised by the Post: Did large-scale crack use begin in South Central Los Angeles, as we maintained, or did crack explode in a number of places simultaneously? Even in the murky world of drugs, there is significant evidence to support our position. An April 1988 study for the National Institute of Justice by University of Southern California sociologists Malcolm Klein and Cheryl Maxson (Klein is quoted in your articles) states that Los Angeles police began noticing crack on the streets in 1982 and it ''soon thereafter appeared in more reports in 1983 in the predominantly black areas of South-Central L.A.'' At a July 1986 congressional hearing -- four years after crack infested part of Los Angeles -- Isaac Fulwood, then assistant chief and later chief of the Metropolitan Police, testified: ''Locally, in the Washington. D.C. area, crack is not at this time a serious problem. It is just beginning to surface in the streets at our drug-market locations.'' Officials from New York and Detroit said the same. The Post also put the drug sales in a national context, saying the Nicaraguans named in our series ''accounted for only a small portion of the nation's cocaine trade.'' We never said otherwise. More important, the Post suggests that two of the key characters in our series, DEA informant Danilo Blandon and cocaine trafficker Rick Ross, couldn't have wrought as much horror as we suggested. The Post says that Blandon handled ''only'' about five tons of cocaine over a decade. Even if that were true, that strikes us as a lot of pure cocaine being dumped into one section of a city, especially considering that it would have been diluted three to seven times before hitting the street. But we're talking about far more than five tons -- and you needn't take our word for it. Blandon himself told the DEA in a 1995 statement (posted on our Web site for all to see) that he sold cocaine to Ross for 10 years and supplied him with an average of 50 to 100 kilos a week. That works out to 2.8 to 5.7 tons a year, and Blandon testified that Ross was not his only customer. The assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted Blandon told a 1995 grand jury (the transcript is also posted on our Web site) that Blandon was ''the biggest Nicaraguan cocaine dealer in the United States.'' As for Ross, the Los Angeles Times described him this way on Dec. 20, 1994: ''If there was an eye to the storm, if there was a criminal mastermind behind crack's decade-long reign, if there was one outlaw capitalist most responsible for flooding Los Angeles' streets with mass-marketed cocaine, his name was "Freeway' Rick.'' Did we do something wrong by talking to a defense lawyer? For eight months we had tried to interview Blandon -- even going to Nicaragua to track him down. Blandon finally said the DEA wouldn't let him talk to us. In a last-ditch effort, our reporter suggested some questions to the defense lawyer. The Post criticizes ''the articles' racially charged allegation that the CIA's army of contras deliberately targeted the black community in an effort to expand the market for a cheap form of cocaine.'' This is a total mischaracterization. We directly said on the front page: ''But why -- of all the ethnic and racial groups in California to pick from -- crack planted it's deadly roots in L.A.'s black neighborhoods is something only Oscar Danilo Blandon Reyes can say for sure.'' The logo for the series was not the CIA emblem superimposed over a man smoking crack, as Howard Kurtz reported in the Post on Oct. 2. But that logo was used on our Web site and in a reprint. We have changed the Web site logo and remade the reprint because we don't want such a question to overshadow discussion of the truly important issues. The Post has every right to reach conclusions different from those of the Mercury News. But I'm disappointed in the ''What's the big deal?'' tone running through the Post's critique. If the CIA knew about illegal activities being conducted by its associates, federal law and basic morality required that it notify domestic authorities. It seems to me that this is exactly the kind of story that a newspaper should shine a light on. Ultimately, we agree wholeheartedly with the conclusion of your Oct. 9 editorial: ''For even just a couple of CIA-connected characters to have played even a trivial role in introducing Americans to crack would indicate an unconscionable breach by the CIA. It is essential to know whether the agency contributed to this result or failed to exercise diligence to block it.'' Jerry Ceppos Executive Editor San Jose Mercury News | Mercury Center Home | Index | Feedback | 1996 Mercury Center. The information you receive on-line from Mercury Center is protected by the copyright laws of the United States. The copyright laws prohibit any copying, redistributing, retransmitting, or repurposing of any copyright-protected material.

---

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank