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Jackson calls
for investigation

Civil rights leader supports call for congressional hearings

Published: Sept. 8, 1996

Mercury News Staff Writer

Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson on Saturday called for more investigation into ''the relationship between the CIA and targeting drugs toward the inner cities.''

Jackson spoke in response to a series of articles in the Mercury News last month that describe how, in the 1980s, crack cocaine was smuggled into the United States and sold to inner-city blacks in Los Angeles to raise money for the Central Intelligence Agency-backed Contra army fighting to overthrow the Nicaraguan government.

''If most Americans knew that our government, through the CIA, was involved in subsidizing drugs for these cities it would create a great sense of revulsion,'' Jackson said during a speech in Oakland. ''Most Americans -- black, white and brown, Democratic and Republican -- would reject such a notion if they knew it.''

Following Waters' lead

Jackson said he supports the call by U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, a Democrat from South-Central Los Angeles, for investigations into possible government involvement in the crack epidemic. Waters last week wrote a series of letters seeking probes by the CIA, the Justice Department and Congress. She also said she intends to ask the Congressional Black Caucus to conduct hearings into the matter.

Jackson said he would take a reprint of the series to his son, Jesse Jackson Jr., a Democratic congressman from Chicago. The reprint was pressed into Jackson's hands by Vaughn Chatman, a representative of the Ministerial Alliance in San Jose, as Jackson was preparing to address a rally against Proposition 209, the anti-affirmative-action measure known as the California Civil Rights Initiative on the California ballot in November.

Jackson first heard of the CIA-Contra-crack connection from Waters, Chatman said.

Chatman, who has a cellular telephone business in San Jose, said he approached Jackson after being asked by his own pastor and the Ministerial Alliance ''to try to get hold of the powers that be.''

Chatman said that his anger over the matter continues to grow and has sometimes led him to tears. The flooding of black neighborhoods with crack cocaine was ''genocide,'' he said, coming ''at the same period of time they were trying to get rid of all the social programs, the treatment programs.''

''You put in the poison, you eliminate the antidote, and what's left? How many George Washington Carvers have been lost because of this?''

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The Mercury News' three-part series outlined how cocaine dealers working for the CIA's Nicaraguan Democratic Force (known by its Spanish acronym, FDN) helped spawn a crack cocaine epidemic by selling massive amounts of cut-rate cocaine to the gangs of South-Central Los Angeles throughout much of the 1980s.

Other stories

Series leads to CIA probe
Sept. 6, 1996

Waters calls on Attorney General
Sept. 4, 1996

Boxer calls for CIA probe
Aug. 29, 1996

Black groups seek probe of CIA drug links
Aug. 24, 1996

Editorial: Another CIA disgrace: Helping the crack flow
Aug. 21, 1996

Gary Webb radio and TV appearances
Last updated:
Sept. 12, 1996

document link
Rep. Waters' letter to the Attorney General

document link
Rep. Waters' letter to House Chairman of the Judiciary Committee

Photo link
Jesse Jackson at the conference.
AP photo

The head of the drug ring's Southern California operation, a former Nicaraguan government official named Danilo Blandon, has admitted in federal court testimony that he and other exiles began selling drugs in largely black L.A. neighborhoods in 1982 to help finance the CIA's army, known in the United States as the Contras.

Blandon testified that before the Contra drug operation began, he and the head of the drug ring, Nicaraguan smuggler Norwin Meneses, met with Col. Enrique Bermudez, a longtime CIA employee and the military head of the FDN, who was slain in Nicaragua in 1991.

document link
Biographical information on Oscar Danilo Blandon, Norwin Meneses and Enrique Bermudez
Following requests from Waters and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, CIA Director John Deutch has ordered the spy agency's inspector general to look into the issue. Deutch made it clear, however, that he does not believe the charges.
document link
CIA Director John Deutch's letter

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