The CIA and Narco-Imperialism
The CIA and Narco-Imperialism
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"The CIA is Narcotics-Central for the planet."
Leon Panetta, the former congressman and Clinton chief of staff, has no background in any of America's spy agencies, foreign or domestic. And that's a wonderful reason for Barack Obama to nominate him to head the CIA.. Critics of Obama's choice of Panetta, a Washington insider, argue that the CIA chief should have experience in the agency's peculiar culture. That's like saying that the best qualification for U.S. Attorney General is having spent a lifetime as a member of the Mafia.
The Central Intelligence Agency has been an institutional criminal enterprise for its entire existence. I'm not talking about the business of espionage and its attendant lies and double-dealing. Hypothetically speaking, the tools of the spy trade can be used for good purposes or bad. But the CIA's historical nexus is the drug trade, an unmitigated evil.
One of the CIA's first assignments in the aftermath of World War Two was to undermine the electoral systems of France and Italy, to make sure that popular communist parties did not get close to power. To that end, the CIA helped the Italian and French mafias get back on their feet by establishing the global drug trade. In return, the French and Italian gangsters acted as the CIA's muscle, in Europe. That unholy alliance set the pattern for the CIA's next six decades. Wherever the agency ventured, international narcotics delivery systems proliferated, and the drug trade flourished. During the Vietnam War, the CIA organized the Southeast Asian heroin trade, centered in Burma's Golden Triangle, creating a global empire with profit centers in every Black neighborhood in the United States. In the 1980s, the agency facilitated the spread of crack cocaine into America's ghettos, to enrich its allies in U.S. wars against leftists in Latin America.
"Wherever the agency ventured, international narcotics delivery systems proliferated."
Over time, it became standard operating procedure for the CIA to establish close relationships with the criminal classes in every area of operations, and to work through these criminals to achieve U.S. policy objectives. Today, the CIA is Narcotics-Central for the planet, with its cocaine capital in Colombia and its heroin capital in Afghanistan. As the overseer of narco-states and the main architect of the international narcotics network, the United States may be described as a narco-imperialist power.
Of course, the controversy over Leon Panetta's nomination to head the CIA doesn't even touch on the agency's role as Godfather to the international drug trade. Rather, it's about what Barack Obama plans to do to detoxify and cleanse the agency of George Bush's torture, extraordinary rendition and assorted other War on Terror paraphernalia. This is especially sensitive since there still exist a few Democrats who would really like to sort out where the CIA's crimes end, and George Bush's begin. Leon Panetta's nomination is Barack Obama's symbolic statement that his administration is making a clean break with the CIA's recent past. In the end, Obama is likely to keep more of the Bush War on Terror CIA than he rejects. But no administration can separate the agency from the international drug trade. That's part of the CIA's DNA.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
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