CIA vs DEA: The Story of the War on Drugs
This never-ending war has been a phony contest, an arm wrestle between two arms of the US state: the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Central intelligence Agency (CIA). Routinely, the DEA’s attempts at prosecuting major traffickers in US courts were dismissed on national security grounds, because the traffickers were CIA assets. As CIA director George Bush explained in 1976, these cover-ups were legal under a 1954 agreement between the CIA and the Justice Department, which gave the CIA the right to block prosecutions and to keep its crimes secret in the name of national security. The “de-facto” immunity from prosecution enabled CIA assets to brazenly deal drugs, knowing they were ‘protected’.
In the process of penetrating the world drug trade, US narcotic agents invariably stumbled upon the CIA’s involvement in drug-trafficking. One of the reasons the Federal Bureau of Narcotics was abolished in the 1960s was that its case-making agents uncovered these political and espionage intrigues. In the 1970s the DEA and the CIA warred over the role of South Vietnamese government officials in the heroin trade and DEA agents were taught the rules of “plausible deniability” to insulate US involvement. During the 1980s the DEA’s priority was protecting the Reagan’s administration’s illegal drug operations in Central America and Central Asia. The DEA was suborned and became an adjunct of the CIA in American foreign policy, politely staying away from CIA sponsored war zones in Central Asia and Central America, operating the War on Drugs along ideological lines.
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