Suzan Mazur: Rose and Weiner agree that Bill Clinton had a dysfunctional relationship with the CIA. Would you comment on the Clintons' relationship with the CIA? First there was Operation Chaos, right? And then Mena? You've got a new book coming out this Fall, Strength of the Pack, that refers to the Mena Cartel. Can you name some names – who were the Mena Cartel?
Doug Valentine: Well, I'm actually being facetious in the book about the Mena Cartel. I haven't been on the ground in Mena researching the drug operation there, so I'd prefer not to get into a detailed discussion about it.
But if anybody should be associated with the goings on at Mena – Barry Seal and his operations – it's William Casey, George Bush I, and Ronald Reagan. Mena was a CIA operation that existed between 1981 and 1984 but became an issue while Clinton was president and was used to deflect attention from Iran-Contra and the CIA's own involvement in international drug trafficking. (See… Scoop: Mazur: Deeper Into The Clintons' CIA Drug Nexus )
Suzan Mazur: Speaking of drugs, Weiner does a Holly-go-lightly over the CIA's MKULTRA mind control episode. He says the Agency destroyed almost all the MKULTRA records.
But beyond Richard Helms' and Allen Dulles' MKULTRA program of random drugging of Greenwich Village Leftists at 81 Bedford Street in the 1950s and 60s after getting them drunk at Chumley's speakeasy across the street, or around the corner on Cherry Lane at the Lefty Blue Mill tavern – in your book, Strength of the Wolf, you mention the Agency's involvement on the Colombian Amazon where the celebrated American adventurer Mike Tsalickis, the region's one-time US Vice Consul, was asked to find some useful tropical drugs for the CIA – probably along the lines of hallucinogenic yaje.
Mike Tsalickis - the CIA's go-to guy for hallucinogens
Curiously, in the late 1980s, Tsalickis was busted for smuggling into the US 4.4 tons of cocaine in a shipment of Brazilian lumber; it was the biggest cocaine bust in US history at the time. Tsalickis told me in a phone conversation following the bust that the feds were in the drug business on the Amazon. The DEA told me they'd been tracking Tsalickis' exploits for 10 years. He was sent to Marion. Believe he's out now.
I stayed at Tsalickis' hotel there in Leticia, the Parador Ticuna, months before the drug bust, researching a story. Leticia was indeed the wild frontier, made wilder because of the armed desperados high on drugs. Have fond memories of the night I spent upriver at Tsalickis' Monkey Island communing with caiman by flashlight and their cooing -- nyock, nyock, nyock. . . .
Hand Drawn Map Of Leticia On The Colombian Amazon - Image Source
There were clearly no surveillance cameras in the bird nests along the banks of the Amazon – it was anything goes on the river. Peru on the opposite bank and Brazil a walk across the Colombian border.
Recall sitting around a table at Tsalickis' Leticia hotel sipping Aguardiente with a British art scholar and a lumber dealer from Manaus, the latter anxious about speaking with Mike about a lumber sale. Kept pacing. .
Weiner does not go into the CIA's commercial drug exploits. In fact, he quotes Helms in his book as follows:
"We could get money anyplace in the world . . . We ran a whole arbitrage operation. We didn't need to launder money – ever."
Would you comment?
Doug Valentine: Angleton ran the CIA's narcotics operation, in league with the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, until 1971, when Helms put it under Tom Karamessines at operations; Karamessines was the former CIA Athens chief.
I know for a fact that Angleton in the counterintelligence division of the CIA was in charge of its relations with law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, which is one of the reasons organizationally that he ended up having relations with people like Charlie Siragusa, a high ranking official in the FBN. This is how Angleton enters into relationships with Corsican drug traffickers and uses them for counterintelligence operations.
I know this because I interviewed one of the officers who was on Angleton's staff and who actually was his liaison to the Bureau of Narcotics. And I'll be talking more about that in my new book, Strength of the Pack. The guy's name was Jim Ludlum. People say he's related to Robert Ludlum.
In 1968 the Federal Bureau of Narcotics was abolished and Lyndon Johnson's administration created the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Angleton and the CIA continued to have an official relationship with the BNDD until 1971, at which point Nixon declared narcotics law enforcement a national emergency and made it an issue of national security.
And at that point relations switched from Angleton at counterintelligence to the operations branch of the CIA. That's incredibly important in understanding the history of the CIA's involvement with drug trafficking, because now it's no longer a function of counterintelligence, something deep inside the Agency. Now you actually have CIA chiefs of station all around the world becoming actively involved in collecting intelligence on drug trafficking. It became in 1971 a very, very big business – drug trafficking within the CIA.
Suzan Mazur: When you say big business, what exactly do you mean?
Doug Valentine: There was a guy at the CIA who worked with the BNDD. Jim Ludlum then gave up his liaison relationship because he was counterintelligence and the new liaison was an operations officer. His name was Seymour Bolton, the father of Joshua Bolton – now a high ranking official in the Bush administration.
What the CIA drug business is, is controlling how the DEA targets foreign drug traffickers. The CIA's drug business is the management of how the DEA conducts foreign investigations. The CIA reports directly to the president or the national security council and there are issues to consider in going after traffickers that transcend law enforcement and involve national security. Which is why Nixon made that change. Nixon did not want officials going off and investigating Chinese drug traffickers at the same time he was to trying to secretly form diplomatic relations with China. So he had to put the CIA in control of how the DEA mounted its foreign drug investigations.
Suzan Mazur: And what are your thoughts about that arrangement?
Doug Valentine: If you're going to go about the business of empire, creating an empire around the world, you don't want to put it in the hands of a law enforcement agency that's going to bust Salvador Allende yesterday and General Pinochet tomorrow.
You want to make sure they only bust Allende. And that Pinochet gets away with drug trafficking for 20 years.
How the CIA evolved over the past 60 years in all these different ways in relation to narcotics trafficking, to the media, in relation to foreign policy, etc. – has enabled it to consolidate power. It's far from being out of business or in descent or rising from the ashes. It's more powerful than it ever was.
Suzan Mazur: Are you familiar with the Eurasia Group?
Started out as a mini-foreign policy association back in 1998, backed by the CIA – the so-called analyst side – and the Council on Foreign Relations. I attended some of their fascinating meetings. They invited a slew of officials and former officials of the FSU, as well as business leaders to speak – Boris Berezovsky, etc. There's been a controversial Russian industrialist on the advisory board from the start.
At some point they began charging $100 to attend meetings. And I got an angry phone call from EG because I'd contacted someone I met at one of the meetings regarding an interview.
Apparently EG was now selling those contacts the CIA & CFR helped them establish. Eurasia Group has had some affiliation with Lehman Brothers and is considered the world's largest political risk group.
( http://www.eurasiagroup.net/about/ )
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