George Bush oversaw
covert CIA operations?

Rosalind Muhammad
West Coast Bureau Chief

Carson, Calif.--News that Central Intelligence Agency operatives were tied to the crack cocaine epidemic has prompted calls that the Oliver North-run Iran-Contra scandal be reopened to discover who knew about drug trafficking and profits used to support the 1980s Contra war against the Nicaraguan government.

Investigative journalist and author Harley Schlanger is charging that former President George Bush, as Ronald Reagan's vice-president, oversaw covert operations carried out by the CIA, the Pentagon, and other federal agencies.

"We can't limit the cocaine and crack cocaine explosion in the U.S. to the CIA. That lets Bush off the hook. We can't let that happen," said Mr. Schlanger, at a Sept. 18 news briefing here. Mr. Schlanger is Southwestern bureau chief of the Washington, D.C.-based weekly magazine Executive Intelligence Review.

The Rev. Franklin Clemons, assistant pastor of the Little Light Baptist Church in the neighboring city of Compton concurred. "If ever there were a time to keep the ball rolling, it's now," the Rev.Clemons said.

The Rev. Clemons was among over two dozen clergy, community activists and Compton Black elected officials to attend the news briefing held at the Hampton Inn.

For over an hour, Mr. Schlanger, who works for the former Democratic Presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche, revisited the 1985 scandal which exposed the illegal diversion of profits from arms sales to Iran to fund the Contras during former President Ronald Reagan's administration.

The Contra were armies of U.S.-backed anti-Communists created by the CIA in mid 1981 in hopes of toppling the new socialist government in Nicaragua.

Last month, after a year-long investigation, the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News ran a three part series that linked the explosion of crack cocaine in the U.S. to a San Francisco Bay Area drug ring that sold tons of cocaine to street gangs in Los Angeles and funneled millions in drug profits to the Contras.

This drug network, the Mercury News said, opened the first pipeline between Colombia's cocaine cartels and the Black neighborhoods of Los Angeles, a city now known as the "crack" capital of the world.

Mr. Schlanger took the Mercury News investigation one step further. There's no way that a sophisticated operation such as the one detailed in the Mercury News articles could have existed without the explicit approval of former Pres. Bush, said Mr. Schlanger.

He asserts that all of the covert operations carried out by CIA operatives, the Pentagon, and other federal agencies were commanded by Mr. Bush while serving as vice-president in the Ronald Reagan administration in 1981-89.

The Iran-Contra scandal, in which Mr. Bush's National Security Council staffer Lt. Col. Oliver North became the fall guy, was only the tip of the iceberg, Mr. Schlanger asserts.

On Sept.11, State Rep. Harold James, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, and several other Black political leaders from Pennsylvania called for a congressional investigation of the role of the federal government under Mr. Bush in promulgating the crack epidemic in inner cities.

And, in his effort to "dispel any lingering public doubt on the subject" of the CIA's alleged role in drug running, CIA Director John M. Deutch has ordered the agency's Inspector General to conduct a thorough review of the allegations to be completed by Nov. 4.

Royce W. Esters, president of the NAACP Compton Branch who attended the news briefing, expressed anger over the government's possible role in "genocidal" proliferation of crack and powder cocaine in American inner cities.

"The NAACP is concerned about the proliferation of drugs, guns, and crack cocaine in the Black community, as well as mandatory sentencing laws and the privatization of prisons, which I believe is a plantation system," Mr. Esters said.

Marcine B. Shaw, a Compton Calif., councilwoman and mayor pro temp, said that the Compton City Council on Sept. 17 unanimously passed a resolution calling on the U.S. Justice Department to, launch an investigation into the allegations of the CIA-Contra cocaine connection.

Certified copies of the resolution were forwarded to President Clinton, Attorney General Janet Reno, Mr. Deutch, and Speaker of the House, Republican Newt Gingrich, to name a few.

"The city of Compton has taken a stance to make sure that this story doesn't die," Ms. Shaw said. "Although we know it was the CIA, we also know that the CIA had to answer to somebody."

Congresswoman Maxine Waters on Sept. 17 called on Congress to pass legislation authorizing an investigation of charges raised by the Mercury News, and by others, regarding the government's knowledge of covert drug-related operations in the early 1980s to fund the anti-Sandinista rebels in Nicaragua.


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