This isn’t the CIA report you may be thinking of, the one from last January in which that
agency swore up and down it “could find no evidence” for any contra-drug ties.
No. This is the other one
— Volume 2, dated October 8,
1998. The one in which the CIA quietly, quietly admits it allowed cocaine to be exported and sold to American citizens to help fund the contras.

Back in March, the CIA’s Inspector General, Fred Hitz, told Congress that the
CIA had maintained relationships with companies and individuals that it knew to be involved in the drug business, and furthermore, that the CIA had received from the Justice Department clearance not to report any knowledge it
might have of drug-dealing by CIA assets. Here’s ample evidence for the latter
at least: random highlights from the report include “Exclusion of Narcotics Violations from Scope of Reportable Non-employee Crimes” — “DoJ and CIA discussed the issue of whether narcotics violations should be in the list of reportable crimes and the parties arrived at an understanding where CIA would
only report ‘serious, not run-of-the-mill, narcotics violations.’ … According to Cohen, CIA’s main concern was the collection of intelligence on narcotics, not law enforcement.” There’s also some Clintonesque toe-twisting about the exact definition of “employee” here:

    Between August 15, 1979 and March 2, 1982, CIA was required by the April 15,
    1979 Attorney General’s guidelines under E.O. 12036 and HN 7-39 to report to DoJ any narcotics trafficking allegations relating to individuals, assets, or
    independent contractors who were associated with the Contras because assets and independent contractors were considered “employees” for crimes reporting purposes. As of March 2, 1982, the terms of the 1982 CIA-DoJ Crimes Reporting
    MOU under E.O. 12333 no longer required that CIA report to DoJ narcotics trafficking allegations regarding individuals, assets, or independent contractors associated with the Contras because assets and independent contractors were not considered “employees” for crimes reporting purposes.

Note also recollections of “remarks by CATF chief Alan Fiers (who had direct
responsibility for management of the Nicaraguan and Central American programs)
to the effect that there had been some credible reporting of narcotics trafficking in the Southern Front (Costa Rica).”

In short, here’s vindication for journalist Gary Webb after all — despite his
regrettable subsequent co-optation by and collaboration with the conspiracy theorists of the left, who claimed the introduction of drugs into the inner cities was itself a deliberate racist-genocidal government policy. Want more?
Read the report; read Webb’s original book , though it’s sadly marred by the Maxine Waters introduction; read, also, Whiteout
by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, which covers not
only the CIA’s drug trafficking involvement, but the campaign to discredit Webb as well — it’s the book the CIA doesn’t want you to read.

It really IS the economy, stupid

In political philosophy, there’s a fine line between the visionary innovator
and the cryptoutopian crackpot. The Economic Government Group pushes that line. Formed out of concern that “the freedom movement was focused too closely
on devising ways to minimize the state and not enough on developing workable alternatives to it,” it works to let the marketplace become the means by which
government is created and maintained. Its Web site, , carries not one but two introductions to its occasionally loony, but occasionally blisteringly creative ideas; I recommend
Stephen H. Foerster’s good straightforward summary of this take-no-prisoners free-market philosophy. Fans of the book The Sovereign Individual by J. Davidson and W. Rees-Mogg may find affinities here.

Capitalistic self-regulation now in progress

Its familiar branded online seal is displayed on more and more reputable merchants’ Web sites; its own site offers a variety of privacy resources for both Web publishers and Web users. TRUSTe seeks
to build users’ trust and confidence on the Internet and, in doing so, accelerate growth of the Internet industry — all based on a strong understanding of the fact that no single privacy principle is adequate for all
situations. Government regulation of the Internet would likely be more rigid,
ham-handed, costly to implement, and difficult to repeal than an industry- regulated program such as TRUSTe’s. If you sell stuff on the Internet, or know
someone who does, using and encouraging the use of TRUSTe just might be doing
Web commerce a big favor.

The forgotten point of the military

The relatively high levels of defense spending today belie serious gaps in our
military preparedness. Pork-barreling is grotesquely distorting the direction
of the dollars actually appropriated to the services, in a spirit well exemplified by the latest budget
from Congress. Meanwhile, America’s armed forces are more and more diverted into “peacekeeping” and domestic policing, subjected to the egalitarian schemes of
social engineers, and systematically alienated from civilian society. “The lack of a strong military leads only to its more frequent use,” former secretary of the Navy John Lehman points out. “America needs forces that are recruited, trained, and directed to do not social services, not international
welfare, not peacekeeping, not drug interdiction, but to rain fire and destruction on our enemies if they break the peace and seek to attack us and our close allies. … The armed services are not just another branch of the civil service.” Lehman warns against the misuse of the services for diplomacy
or in domestic law enforcement (including drug interdiction). His prescription for the rehabilitation of the military includes restoring the warrior culture of the forces, eliminating politically correct double standards, redressing the civil-military imbalance, and reducing the pork. Somebody had better start listening to him.

E – The People

“If your car is swallowed up by a pothole the size of Poughkeepsie,“>E
– The
People can help you find the person you need to tell about it,” claims this community-affairs Web service’s front page. Click on “streets,” enter your address, and they’ll identify your public works
commissioner — and see that your complaint reaches his or her office, even if
that office isn’t on the Internet (they’ll convert your email to a fax). Lots
of Web sites offer “easy” access to federal or state officials, but not many provide on this nitty-gritty local level. The site sometimes slows down at busy times, so use patience.

The CSPI health crackpots are at it again

This time it’s soda pop
that they’re warning you is the devil’s instrument. They want it banned from schools, taxes placed on its sale, and an end put to ads for it that target children. When are these querulous suburban Savonarolas’ fifteen minutes going to be over? Methinks I detect
a certain cooling toward them even now: wonder of wonders, the AP actually noticed this time that they “offered little scientific evidence” for all their
dire claims of damaging effects. But I’m not really optimistic; there’ll always be a market for scare stories with a moralistic cherry on top.

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.