ISSUE #426, MARCH 29, 1998
339 LAFAYETTE ST., NEW YORK, NY 10012 (212) 674-9499


In testimony to the Intelligence Committee of the US House of 
Representatives on Mar. 16, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) 
inspector general Federick Hitz admitted publicly for the first time 
that the agency had failed to act on allegations of drug trafficking by 
leaders and supporters of the US-backed Nicaraguan "contra" rebels 
who fought against the leftist Nicaraguan government of the 1980s. 
"Let me be frank," Hitz said. "[T]here are instances where CIA did not, 
in an expeditious or consistent fashion, cut off relationships with 
individuals supporting the contra program who were alleged to have 
engaged in drug- trafficking activity or take action to resolve the 
allegations." According to Hitz there were allegations against "dozens 
of people and a number of companies connected in some fashion to 
the contra program."

Hitz revealed that the CIA made an agreement in 1982 with then- 
attorney general William French Smith that CIA officers would not be 
required to report charges of drug trafficking against their contra 
associates if the contras were not directly employed by the agency. 
According to Hitz, this secret agreement covered paid and unpaid 
"assets, pilots who ferried supplies to the contras, as well as contra 
officials and others." The policy remained unchanged until 1986, 
when Congress restored official US funding for the contras and made 
drug running an unnecessary sideline for the rightwing rebels. Even 
after 1986 the CIA continued to work with suspected drug 
traffickers if the allegations against them seemed "flimsy," Hitz said. 
Investigations into the charges were not "done as expeditiously as 
they should have been." 

Hitz released a report on Jan. 29 denying any link between the 
agency and drug running; charges of CIA complicity in the sale of 
crack cocaine in US inner cities gained wide circulation after a three-
part series on contra drug trafficking ran in the San Jose Mercury 
News of San Jose, California, in August 1996. The mainstream media 
used the CIA report to dismiss the Mercury News allegations [see 
Updates #413, #419]. The agency has also prepared a fuller, 600-
page classified report on the issue, which Hitz said would be 
submitted to Congress later in March. 

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) said on Mar. 16 that Hitz's January report 
"lacks credibility and its conclusions should be dismissed." Hitz's 
testimony led Rep. Norman Dicks (D-WA) to call for further hearings 
with testimony from officials from the 1981- 1989 administration of 
former president Ronald Reagan, including Oliver North, who 
supervised the contras until the Iran-contra scandal broke in late 
1986. Despite his admissions, Hitz insisted at the hearing that CIA 
investigators "found no evidence...of any conspiracy by CIA or its 
employees to bring drugs into the United States." [Alianza Nacional 
Cubano-Americana (ANCA) 3/20/98; Washington Post 3/17/98]


... On Mar. 25 Bolivian authorities arrested Colombian rebel leader 
Luis Alberto Alban Urbano, better known as Marcos Leon Calarca, at 
the La Paz airport. Alban is the international spokesperson of the 
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC); he has been living 
in Mexico for five years. Alban was in Bolivia to meet with the 
Bolivian Communist Party and other leftist groups to seek help with 
possible peace negotiations between the FARC and the Colombian 
government. [ED-LP 3/26/98 from AP; El Colombiano (Medellin) 
3/26/98] After holding Alban for several days, the Bolivian 
government decided on Mar. 27 to deport him back to Mexico. [ED-LP 
3/28/98 from AP]... 

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