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16 January 2010

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david

I will infer with hope that the choice of photography means this establishment's proprietor is on the mend.

And here, I thought it was always cold in Canada. One can always learn something on this blog ...

optimax

During the Carter administration marijuana was on the verge of being legalized until a group of mothers, whose children had died from hard-drug abuse, convinced Jimmy marijuana was a gateway drug. The evidence disproves that but the PR overwhelmed the greater good (how many criminals have our anti-pot laws created?)in favor the mispercieved cause of a few personal tragedies, and the push to legalize was nixed.

http://www.marijuana.com/myths/13

walrus

While I think I understand the general thrust of the post is arguing that drug legalisation would be a good thing, I for one would not characterise America as monolithic either. 50 States = 50 tribes as someone put it.

I also don't believe that the intelligence community dabbles in the drug trade. It's too sophisticated for them ;P

JohnH

"There isn't the slightest proof" of covert US involvement in drug trafficking. And if there were? The perps would certainly act assiduously to assure themselves plausible deniability. Bottom line--it's really hard to make any definitive statement.

However, we can say that the massive flow of illegal drugs coupled with a total absence of convictions of kingpins is mighty suspicious.

lina

Charles I:

Are you related to Prince Rupert?

Nothing wrong with Lady Gaga.

As the mother of a teenager, I'm strongly opposed to the legalization of narcotics. I say this as a life-long liberal leftie.

Patrick Lang

walrus

"It's too sophisticated for them." I suppose that might be true in Australia. pl

Patrick Lang

JohnH

So you argue for the involvement of US Intelligence in the drug trade from the lack of evidence. You are as big an ass as walrus. pl

JohnH

Colonel--you ought to read what I said. You obviously don't see any symptoms of a problem when an illegal, $100 billion dollar industry operates in the US with impunity? None of the kingpins managing lucrative US distribution and laundering ever seem to get arrested. Somewhere there has to be major protection going on, most likely from centrally placed government organizations. If you agree so far, try making a list of likely suspects. The list is short.

peg

something to think about, an op-ed from "Law Enforcement Against Prohibition"

"..Policymakers tell us to fight this unwinnable war.

Only after years of witnessing the ineffectiveness of drug policies -- and the disproportionate impact the drug war has on young black men -- have we and other police officers begun to question the system. Cities and states license beer and tobacco sellers to control where, when and to whom drugs are sold. Ending Prohibition saved lives because it took gangsters out of the game. ...

...Having fought the war on drugs, we know that ending the drug war is the right thing to do -- for all of us, especially taxpayers. ...

Without the drug war, America's most decimated neighborhoods would have a chance to recover. Working people could sit on stoops, misguided youths wouldn't look up to criminals as role models, our overflowing prisons could hold real criminals, and -- most important to us -- more police officers wouldn't have to die.

http://www.mapinc.org/newsleap/v09/n813/a17.html
or
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/16/AR2009081601758.html

graeme

Colonel,

I haven't read much about the alleged ties of the drug trade to US intelligence, or looked into the evidence or lack therof. But I do know that books like this exist:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Politics_of_Heroin_in_Southeast_Asia

I haven't read it. I do know it alleges that the former CIA operated airline Air America was involved in drug trafficking.

I have no opinion as of yet about this, as I haven't investigated any of this too deeply. But I was wondering what you meant by lack of evidence. That would imply that you believe a book like this to be largely bunk (which may well be the case....as I said, I haven't read it).

You worked among the Hmong, I believe, so I imagine you had a fairly good idea what was going on there at the time. I'd be interested to hear you expand a bit on this theme, as it is difficult to find good sources.

robt willmann

Without struggling too much with what the word "involvement" means in the phrase "involvement of U.S. Intelligence in drug trafficking", if we assume, for the sake of discussion, that no U.S. intelligence agency has ever been involved in the trafficking of drugs illegal in the United States, then three questions relate to that assumption and assertion.

1. Has any U.S. intelligence agency ever become aware of a person or organization which has been or is involved in the trafficking of illegal drugs into the United States?

2. If the answer to question number 1 is "yes", then in every instance, did the intelligence agency pass that information on to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, or State, County, or municipal law enforcement so that criminal cases could be opened against the traffickers?

3. If the answer to question number 2 is "no", then why not?

If the answer to question number 3 is that the law prohibits the intelligence agencies from "sharing" that information with law enforcement, then let us join hands and approach Congress to pass a law that requires all intelligence agencies, including "private contractors" of them, to disclose all information of illegal drug trafficking to law enforcement for purposes of prosecution.

walrus

Col. Lang, you missed the "tongue in cheek" reference :P

Charles I

I'm never sure how to feel when some accuses me of being sophisticated.

Prostitution should be legal everywhere, I hold that for you, not against you.

You have rationalized me to the point of not believing in monolithic entities, forces, cultures, conspiracies, etc. But the trajectory of a particular school of fish or say, oil, dope, money & war vector may look conspiratorial, arrive at the same sorry pass, be the work of many of us acting not in concert, but nonetheless in accord with different dopey, political, intelligence and profitable ends.

Over and over and over and over.

All I meant to say is that if its puritanism maintaining you in thralldom to narcoterrorists, their bankers, armorers, and all those addicted beggars, grifters and petty theives, and then the army of narcs and jailers to feed to boot, well its a mighty sensorily selective puritanism. So I'm skeptical that popular puritanism is the charging force in this mess, and not the abiding confluence of human nature and political expediency in various hot, cold and sociocultural wars.

I also again plead Cobain's Razor to the effect that "just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out there. . . ."

The subject of dope, war, cash and politics is so huge and complex that I despair of ever properly citing it, though I think I made a few discussing BCCI, the Bank of Nugan Hand, drugs and the CIA a while back.

Here's a nugget I'm refining at the moment.

Apparently in March 1982 the Reagan administration drew up a secret memorandum of understanding between the CIA and Justice Dept exempting CIA agents from the previous duty to report to Justice the drug trafficking activities of their agents assets and contractors:

US Central Intelligence Agency, Office of Inspector General[Frederick Hitz], Investigations Staff, Report of Investigation concerning Allegations between CIA and the Contras in Trafficking Cocaine to the United States, 96-0143-IG, vol. 2.

It appears from my research that US foreign policy has been heavily reliant upon a revolving network of former intelligence officers, bankers, soldiers,and contractors. Especially flying contractors like General Chennault's post WW II operations in support of the Kuomintang, and assorted other proxies of dubious composition and allegiance operating in drug or soon-to-be drug producing regions, continuously since WW II.

I would find Dean Rusk's quote to the effect of "locals, sabatoge, opium, whatever we've got", think its in Gabriel Kolko but I'm being told to come, another time.

Lina, I'm no royalty, another Charles popped in to spout off one time and I wanted no mistake as to whose giberrish was whose. Just to be clear, I'd like to see Lady Gaga naked, and the little white latex number they must paint on her is pretty close.

Hard drugs and alcohol saw me jailed before I became a lawyer, and damn near killed me after. Nicotine and alcohol are the gateway drugs on this continent. I don't have kids, if I did I wouldn't want them smoking the pot around today, way too strong, nor indeed any at all. Good luck to you. I thank the gods for letting me be the junky who never smoked cigarettes!

Still, from all sides of the ditch, prohibition is pathological. Good parenting, teaching and mentoring will ameliorate most everything life can throw at a kid, but authoritarian bullshit, corruption, criminalization and hypocrisy undermines democracy to your children's peril in ways no population of stable addicts ever could. Your child probably has a higher chance of suffering gang violence or an IED in a foreign land than dying from marijuana.

Now Pat, I thought you were sophisticated enough not to reduce the debate to "you are as big an ass as walrus. . ."

What, I don't measure up assdom department? I'm hurt, but they're really yelling at me now gotta go.

Cosmoskitten

If it is only the profits of the illegal drug trade you want to eliminate, the answer is simple. Increase supply by having the government supply heroin and cocaine to all who want it, free of charge so that users do not need to support their drug habit, by stealing for example.

If you also wants to reduce damage to society and to individuals, you should keep it illegal to use the same drugs that the government are selling. In order to decrease demand, you should find and punish users effectively. Dump personal integrity partially, and have all people be subject to mandatory drug tests (including profiling, extra tests for people believed to be at higher risk). Institute rewards for good snitches.

Users who do not show any will to participate in rehabilitation will be locked up, as long as required. If they work in the labor camp, they can buy water, food any other necessities.

People that show a will and an ability to be rehabilitated will be gradually released, carrying a GPS-locator, and be subject to drug tests. Less secure prisons, with mandatory work duties will be used as halfway houses.

This policy would offend most peoples sense of justice, so I doubt that there have been any good thinking about the details. Since I think the damage drug money does in many less developed countries is horrendous, I think it could be worthwhile to let more than initial emotions judge such a policy.

zanzibar

Cartel Inc: In the company of Narcos

"Conservative estimates put Mexico's total drug smuggling revenues at between $25 to $40 billion every year, more than the country's oil export earnings in 2009 and rivaling the annual revenues of U.S. companies like Nike and Coca-Cola."

I can understand where folks who oppose decriminalization of narcotics are coming from. But the reality is illegal narcotics is a big business. The demand in the US is huge. Naturally there will be supply.

We did not have much success prohibiting the consumption of alcohol and gave up on that. Tobacco is widely distributed to adults and despite its proven record to harm human health it is yet to be regulated by the FDA. Millions of Americans use marijuana for both recreational and medicinal purposes. I am sure the statistics for heroin and cocaine usage would also be staggering. The "war on drugs" must have cost us hundreds of billion dollars yet our multi-billion dollar market still gets supplied. Clearly the current approach of prohibition, criminalization and supply interdiction/eradication is not working.

Although we seem to have a stringent system for approval and distribution of pharmaceutical drugs we have heard of celebrity cases of prescription drug abuse. So that is no panacea.

I say just as we control and distribute narcotics like morphine we should do the same for all other narcotics - decriminalizing the trade and bringing it out into the open. Lets get Pfizer and Merck along with CVS and Walmart to compete with the Sinaloa cartel to satisfy our urge for a high. The tax can go towards prevention and rehabilitation with a goal to reduce demand over a period of time.

The reality however is that in our current political system no new approaches can be tried as it would send the prison and law enforcement lobby along with the moralists and some concerned parents into overtime creating scary TV spots of how our children would be spending their afternoon recess in crank parlors.

Charles I

One major player:

"Paul Lional Edward Helliwell was born in 1915. He was a lawyer before he joined the United States Army during the Second World War. Later he was transferred to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) where he served under William Donovan.

In 1943 Colonel Paul Helliwell became head of the Secret Intelligence Branch of the OSS in Europe. Helliwell was replaced in this post by William Casey in 1945.

Helliwell became chief of the Far East Division of the War Department's Strategic Service Unit, an interim intelligence organization formed after OSS was closed down.

In 1947 Helliwell joined the Central Intelligence Agency. In May 1949, General Claire Chennault had a meeting with Harry S. Truman and advocated an increase in funds for Chaing Kai-shek and his Kuomintang Army (KMT) in his war in China. Truman dismissed the idea as impractical. However, Frank Wisner, was more sympathetic and when Mao Zedong took power in China in 1950, he sent Helliwell to Taiwan.

Helliwell's main job was to help Chaing Kai-shek to prepare for a future invasion of Communist China. The CIA created a pair of front companies to supply and finance the surviving forces of Chaing's KMT. Paul Helliwell was put in charge of this operation. This included establishing Civil Air Transport (CAT), a Taiwan-based airline, and the Sea Supply Corporation, a shipping company in Bangkok.

It was Helliwell's idea to use these CIA fronted companies to raise money to help support Chaing Kai-shek. According to Joseph Trento (Prelude to Terror): "Through Sea Supply, Helliwell imported large amounts of arms for the KMT soldiers to keep the Burmese military from throwing them out of the country. The arms were ferried into Burma on CAT airplanes. CAT then used the "empty" planes to fly drugs from Burma to Taiwan, Bangkok, and Saigon. There the drugs were processed for the benefit of the KMT and Chiang Kai-shek's corrupt government on Taiwan."

Civil Air Transport (CAT), later renamed Air America, provided the CIA with the air power needed to sustain its covert operations for the next twenty-five years. Helliwell was to play an important role in running these covert, and often illegal operations.

By the late 1950s it became clear that Chaing Kai-shek would never be strong enough to invade China. The main focus changed to stopping the spread of communism to countries like Burma, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. At the time, the main group fighting communism in the region were the large private armies controlled by the drug lords. For example, General Vang Pao was employing his 30,000-man army to help the Pathet Lao. In return for joining the CIA, Helliwell helped Vang Pao to modernize the drug trade. William Corson claims that: "Portable heroin processing facilities were brought in. It was a creation of the CIA's technical services division." Some of these profits went to help CIA run some unofficial covert operations.

In 1960 Paul Helliwell was transferred to provide business cover for the CIA’s Cuban operations. According to Peter Dale Scott (The Iran Contra Connection) Helliwell worked with E. Howard Hunt, Mitch WerBell and Lucien Conein on developing relationships with drug-dealing Cuban veterans of the Bay of Pigs invasion. It was during this period that Helliwell met Ted Shackley and Thomas Clines. Helliwell later became CIA paymaster for JM/WAVE. In this way, Shackley was able to finance unofficial CIA operations against Cuba.

After the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Helliwell was sent by the CIA to the Bahamas where he set up offshore banks for CIA use. At first he established the Mercantile Bank and Trust Company and then the Castle Bank and Trust Company. Helliwell also ran the American Bankers Insurance Company based in Galveston, Texas. This provided insurance cover for businessmen who cooperated with the CIA. Helliwell also created the Intercontinental Holding, a company in the Cayman Islands that owned the Lear jet used by Barry Seal for his drug running activities.

Helliwell also established a Miami office for the Sea Supply Corporation. According to Joseph Trento (Prelude to Terror): "The primary objective of Helliwell's operations in Florida was to cement the CIA's relationship with organized crime." This included Santos Trafficante, who had a common business interest in Asia, the "successful exportation of Chinese white heroin."

According to Daniel Hopsicker (Barry and the Boys), Helliwell ran Red Sunset Enterprises in Miami. Hopsicker claims it was a CIA front company set up to recruit frogmen and explosives experts for Operation Mongoose.

In 1973 the Internal Revenue Service began an investigation called Operation Trade Winds. During its investigation it discovered that some major organized crime figures such as Morris Dalitz, Morris Kleinman and Samuel A. Tucker were using the Castle Bank and Trust Company. It soon became clear that the bank was laundering Cia funds and drug profits. The IRS eventually announced that it was dropping its investigation of Castle Bank because of "legal problems". According to the Wall Street Journal, the reasons for this was "pressure from the Central Intelligence Agency".

The CIA now needed a new bank. Later that year, Frank Nugan, an Australian lawyer, and Michael Hand, a former CIA contract operative, established the Nugan Hand Bank. Another key figure in this venture was Bernie Houghton, who was closely connected to CIA officials, Ted Shackley and Thomas G. Clines.

Nugan ran operations in Sydney whereas Hand established a branch in Hong Kong. This enabled Australian depositors to access a money-laundering facility for illegal transfers of Australian money to Hong Kong. According to Alfred W. McCoy, the "Hand-Houghton partnership led the bank's international division into new fields - drug finance, arms trading, and support work for CIA covert operations." Hand told friends "it was his ambition that Nugan Hand became banker for the CIA."

Helliwell continued to work as a lawyer in Miami and served as legal counsel to a Panamanian holding company that controlled a Bahamian gambling casino connected with Meyer Lansky.

Paul Helliwell died from emphysema on 24th December, 1976."

<http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKhelliwell.htm>

The original page has a lot of fruitful hotlinks.

I argue from evidence I can find, volumes of it, as well as outta my ass and both sides of my mouth. I've cited other authors, ex narcs before here, from a myriad of sources I will email anyone, whatever weight you may wish to give it.

I admit if my research to date were weighed against my ass, it might prove less convincing in the balance than it does arrayed before me in all its fantastical complexity. . .

Charles I

sorry, here's the link to my previous comment source:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKhelliwell.htm

MS2

I can't understand how anyone could play a serious role involving money, power, and violence in anywhere like Mexico or Colombia, without becoming intimately familiar with people with drug interests. That is not to condemn or exonerate anyone, and those involved in the work are likely the only ones able to understand the context and consequences of their actions. At what point do informed choices about whom to pursue/prosecute shade into running a protection racket on behalf of a "friend?" Should work in this sphere be so heavily outsourced to private companies like DynCorp?

I have never been farther south than a military checkpoint near Ensenada, Baja, so you can take that as a secondhand impression and therefore with a grain of salt.

By the way, I posted once before as MS on something involving Stanislav Petrov, but I chose my name stupidly, as there is another MS here who is not me.

Mark Gaughan

Pat,
Charles I is one Canadian. The title of this post should be: "A Canadian's View of the US".
Mark

Redhand

No, the p words are power, proxies and profit, with a dash of Potemkin theatre played out upon the weak and poor for appearances sake."

However much one may disagree with the rest of the post (I'm not getting into that fight) this last line has rhetorical flair. "Potemkin theatre" just might be a spot-on description of Obama's real strategy for "change," especially as regards the bad actors on Wall Street.

505th PIR

By and large, Canada defines itself on how American it isn't. This has been the case since its inception and before that, since the United Empire Loyalists arrived during and after the revolution.

This said, this identity has always been an exercise in hair splitting and making the most of subtle differences. With the worlds greatest front row seat to the American experience, the use of comparisons has been of great political advantage over and over again. "If we aren't careful we will be just like......" Comparisons have been usefull in a practical way as well, as American ideas can be improved upon, or adopted or rejected as is advantageous to the Canadian good.

On balance a vast geography and a small population with 80% living withing 200 miles of the border has its own pushes and pulls that certainly have required a vigilent hand in terms of a national strategy of nation building. The two countries ARE different. About as different as fraternal twins in the custody who have regular contact with separated parents raising them according to similar yet different mores (govts/constitutions).

In Canada, the US broadcasts itself via the mass media across the border. This is the dominating image of the US. Canadian MSM filters to a degree but it is a channel flick away from obsurity. The problem with this dynamic, is that the airwaves and other cross border vectors of info are just slivers of the American experience and though they appear to present a complete image of it, they are not the lives/experience of the 300 million residents of the USA.
Stereotypes and simple explanations are easy and rule the day. I would most humbly yet forcefully suggest that the image of the Canadian experience is pretty much universally false looking North from the 49th as well.

It is fairly absurd to present generalisms one way or the other about these two nations. It is massively useful and self-serving to do so from a posturing perspective for individuals and groups within each set of borders though I would say because of the population and power differences, it is more distilled and intensely useful from the CDN side.

William P. Fitzgerald III

Pat Lang,

I think Charley One's message is the evidence we've all been looking for that even Canadians can, occasionally, erupt in frustration over whatever. Since Madame is from Vancouver, I've actually known this for some time.

Cannabis grows in the wild, in gardens, in flowerpots, and in clandestine plantations.
It also produces hemp, a valuable and useful commodity. Marijuana has a huge fan base of all ages and the criminalization of the growing and selling the stuff has been tragic for lots of our countrymen. It, contrary to Lina's statement, isn't defined as a narcotic, as are opiates and alcohol. Defining it as illegal hasn't worked to the betterment of society.

On the CIA involvement in the drug trade, there have been stories or rumors of that since the 60s. The theory is that opium from Laos and the Golden Triangle was brought into Viet Nam and sold there in order to finance operations. I don't recall any specific evidence ever having been produced and I think its one of those stories that gets better as its passed along.

In the current usage, Canadian girls are hot! (I'll make sure my wife reads this)

WPFIII

N. M. Salamon

As another Canadian, I beg to differ with Charles, above. Sex, drugs and misleading advertizing is endemic to all capitalist countries, including Canada. I question the alleged incrimination of the CIA in drug trafficking, though it is certain that some officials of various government agencies are corruptible and are corrupted by the big $ of the drug trade.

The major problem of the USA is its history of war and conquest, from the annexation of native lands to the latest wars in Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen, and the proxy war against Lebanon and Palestinians via arming Israel.

The exceptionality and hypocriticality of USA foreign policy has the backlash that civil society is in danger, for the war costs and related corruption [both monetary and philosophical] undermines the effort and ability of the various levels of government to ensure that the actions thereof reflect the truth of the Constitution, FOR THE PEOPLE [not for the benefit of the moneyed elite], by the PEOPLE [and not by K-street and related money donors].

It is not to say that the Canadian government system [as of today] is blameless, but at least it is closer to the notion that the people be served - e.g. universal health care. Canada [and other OECD countries] is somewhat similar to the USA with respect to short term attention, at the expense of looking out for the next generations [e.g. public debt]. It is however the USA [and UKI] which lead the world in hypocritical actions when they constantly harp of monetary help for other countries [seldom delivered, and if delivered it is at the expense of next generation], for both countries are effectively bankrupt. Canada with its current Federal/Provincial deficits is not among the angels either [though not in the infamous leader's leque].

Patrick Lang

All

Anyone can assert anything in any piece of trash that they can manage to publish. Some of you have been harboring deeply anti-American feelings for a long time and have a nice little "stash" of articles and books filled with assertions that you particularly like. I am not going to put up with having you use my site for the purpose of venting. If you stop being posted here, you know why. pl

SubKommander Dred

So, let me see if I understand this correctly;
In Canada, your health insurance is payed for out of your taxes, gay folks can get married (to each other, that is) and Marijuana use is, while technically illegal, broadly tolerated. And the USA is supposed to be the "Home of Free?" Pardon me while the needle of my irony meter pegs itself around '11.' It would seem to me that a society that at least makes some provision for the care of the sick and injured (without forcing it's citizens into prolonged debt and penury based on expensive medical bills), stays out of it's citizen's love lives and puts up with all manner of hipsters, geeks and stoners getting high on a regular basis has something we could learn from. In particular, the current incarnation of The War On Drugs would reveal the folly of our country's drug laws. Despite the many billions invested (blown) by law enforcement, the military and in direct US aid to other countries, drugs in the republic are more prevelant, easier to get and cheaper than they ever have been. And all we have to show for that effort is a prison-industrial complex that is bursting at the seems, full of non-violent drug offenders. I would say that the War on Drugs has gone very well for the police, the trial laywers, the corrections industry as well as the likes of Dyncorp and the coffers of various foreign governments (or, more likely, the secret bank accounts of foreign government officials). For the average American citizen, however, not so much.
Alas, let us consider the cannibis bud. A naturally occuring species of weed who's flower, when properly dried and ingested causes a mild to significant euphoria in the user, typically manifesting in laughing hysterically for long periods of time and consuming large amounts of Oreo cookies. Or perhaps compose lengthy, long winded posts on various blogs.
In further defense of the hemp, one may have noticed that unlike the legal inebriant, alcohol (which is known to be damaging the the liver, central nervous system and gut) associated with moderate to heavy use, cannibis has been shown to be an effective treatment for a number of ailments (wasting syndrome in HIV, an effective anti-emetic for patients undergoing chemotherapy, anxiolytic). In fact, when compared just on the basis of lethality, alcohol, at .40 % BAC (blood alcohol content) is usually deadly to all but the most hardened alcoholic. For example, just how many college kids a year do you hear of dying from 'alcohol poisoning?' And this from a legal drug, readily available at the closest corner store. For the average person, that would be, for example, a fifth of Scotch consumed in about an hour. Provided of course you could keep it down. Contrast this with the lethal dose of ganja, which is estimated to be (approximately) 10 to 15% of a person's body weight, consumed all at once...ie a 100kg man (220lbs) would have to consume at least 10kg (22lbs) within 15 minutes to acheive some level of lethality similar to alchohol. I am pretty sure that your average stoner, no matter how long he or she had been smoking the reefer, would pass out well before they got through the first ounce.
The drug war is a failure. It's time we declared victory and got smart about drug policy in this country.

Pete Deer

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