CIA-DRUG CONNECTION 3-Pack
Most of us are aware of the spurious deals between governments (sometimes called “state actors”) and drug traffickers. There are long-running television series like “Breaking Bad,” “Narco”, and “El Chapo,” major motion pictures about CIA drug dealing onto the streets of Los Angeles, and the politics of heroin in Afghanistan and Southeast Asia. Some battles were fought under the influence of drugs, thus precipitating greater atrocities, presumably numbing the perpetrators. More commonly, entire wars break out because of drug trafficking. Alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, opium, amphetamine and cocaine lace through the history of human conflict. Each of these addictive substances has fueled our larger addiction to war itself.
CIA skullduggery is legendary from overthrowing governments to germ warfare to assassinations but its MK-Ultra program may be at the top of the list. MK-Ultra was the code name for the top-secret CIA project in which the Agency conducted hundreds of clandestine experiments, often on unwitting people, to assess the potential use of LSD and other drugs for mind control and psychological torture. MK-ULTRA, was essentially a continuation of experiments that began in Japanese and German concentration camps. Not only was it roughly based on those experiments, but the CIA actually hired the war criminals to share their “research” as to what techniques were effective and what were not. It’s a dark page in U.S. history. The godfather of the whole operation was the largely unknown Sydney Gottlieb. He was sometimes called the CIA’s “poisoner in chief.”
The decades-old drug war never seems to end. The promised light at the end of the tunnel may be the train heading towards us. Billions are spent and millions are incarcerated. Colombia is the latest venue of the war on drugs. If Vietnam, Afghanistan and Central America are any indications, then we can expect a massive increase in trafficking. The persistence of charges that the CIA is connected, at least tacitly, to drug trafficking lingers over the Agency.
Peter Andreas is Professor of International Studies at Brown University. He is the author of Smuggler Nation: How Illicit Trade Made America and Killer High: A History of War in Six Drugs.
Stephen Kinzer was a New York Times correspondent and bureau chief in Nicaragua, Germany and Turkey. He teaches at Brown University. He is author of many books including Poisoner in Chief: Sydney Gottlieb & the CIA Search for Mind Control.
Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and UC Berkeley professor, has carefully studied and documented the politics of the global drug trade. He’s the author of The Iran-Contra Connection and Cocaine Politics.