Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Pubdate: Wed, 22 Jul 1998
Author: James Taggart, San Jose


THE degree to which agencies such as the CIA will obfuscate and bend
the truth is made clearer by the article reporting on the
investigation into reports that the CIA conspired to assist drug
smuggling by Nicaraguan Contra supporters (``Probe uncovers no
evidence CIA conspired with drug traffickers,'' Page 1A, July 17). And
also clear is the complicity, conscious or not, of the mainstream media.

I thought the Mercury News' original series of articles on the CIA
very courageous and your subsequent running for cover equally cowardly.

The facts are spelled out in this most recent article.

Contrary to your headline, ``some CIA personnel were aware of
allegations of drug trafficking by some Contra supporters and failed
to adequately check them out.'' The failure to pursue these
allegations is tacit acceptance and support and is, in fact, a
conspiracy. Clearly, individuals within the agency put the big picture
- -- Contra support -- ahead of any concerns about drug smuggling.

There never was an official policy by the agency to smuggle drugs to
assist the Contras. And the agency didn't conspire to ``poison the
black community,'' as the original article's critics have pointed out,
ad nauseum. But as stated in the article, top CIA officials chose to
ignore the drug smuggling going on by certain elements in the network
and continued to work with them.

The fact that this is still in doubt at all is amazing to me given
earlier U.S. Senate hearings, and all the stories coming from
ex-agents, Drug Enforcement Administration people and others close
enough to know. The agency was dirty, and the whole story will
probably never be told, unfortunately. But at least this investigation
and the outcry from some officials gives me some hope that acts will
have consequences for those proved to have been involved.

- -- James Taggart, San Jose

- ---
Checked-by: "Rich O'Grady"