**Drug War Without End **
March 12-14, 2010
By T. P. WILKINSON
*Rosetta Stone and the Code of National Security *
The Strength of the Pack, like its predecessor the Strength of the Wolf, takes its title from the Rudyard Kipling poem, “The Law of the Jungle”. Kipling describes how the wolf and the pack complement each other. The power of one is ultimately dependent on that of the other. There is no such thing as a truly lone wolf. In Wolf, Valentine records the story of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and its origin in the internal security policies of the US government at the beginning of WWI. The demise of the FBN in 1968 coincided with an interregnum in which the so-called war on drugs was managed or mismanaged just like the war in Vietnam with which it was intricately connected. Richard Nixon’s attempt to recover US control in Southeast Asia and establish political hegemony at home coincided with creation of the Drug Enforcement Administration, an agency charged with continuing the US government’s pursuit of international narcotics trafficking and policing of the global drug trade. The Strength of the Pack is the story of how the legacy of Anslinger, the FBN’s boss, and the contradictions between publicly proclaimed policies of interdiction and the actual policies of the national security state have created an apparatus based on hypocrisy and deceit which corrupts those who believe in genuine law enforcement and protects those who profit politically and economically from the clandestine control of the international drug markets.
Without actually pointing a finger, Valentine’s sources indicate some unpleasant truths behind these illusions: whatever democratic virtues the US may be said to have, its primary federal law enforcement agencies were formed to suppress political opposition, e.g. from organised labour, war resisters, civil rights activists, et al. Valentine documents numerous occasions when decisions by drug enforcement agencies were required to take the interests of the major pharmaceutical corporations into account. By its very strategy and tactics the case-making against drug traffickers serves to promote the threat of drugs per se more than to control or stop trade and consumption. To call drug law enforcement in the US selective is gross understatement since it has long been an unspoken rule that rich, white neighbourhoods and offenders are off limits. Finally and perhaps most devastating of all the truths Valentine documents, drug law enforcement—whether domestic or international—is subject to the control of the CIA, whose historic policy, not unlike that of the British East India Company over a century ago, has been to protect the manufacture and trade in narcotics for reasons of “national security”.
Repeatedly Valentine recounts the stories of FBN and later DEA agents prevented from making cases against drug traffickers because of direct or indirect CIA intervention. Often the mere indication that a suspect or a known trafficker was working with the CIA was sufficient to stop further enforcement action. Although Valentine actually seems to avoid this conclusion, his preponderance of testimony together with the collateral evidence he provides forces one to ask the question whether the CIA is not in fact the primary broker of the international drug market? The reader who thinks that Valentine will feed the favourite conspiracy theory will be disappointed. Valentine does not end with a rousing plea to the jury to condemn the CIA as the great evil behind international drug trafficking. Yet those who recall the late Gary Webb’s reporting about the CIA’s role in pushing drugs into Los Angeles, described in the opening chapters of Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair’s Whiteout will find testimony in Valentine’s book that adds plausibility to Webb’s claims.
When Allen Dulles, Harry Anslinger, and J. Edgar Hoover died, the government agencies each had left behind were powerful, entrenched bureaucratic institutions. These men were masters of public relations. Their aggressive personalities, all shaped by what might be called the particularly American Puritan hypocrisy, helped to create and sell the enduring myths that sustain the American vision of “national security”. This “national security” relied on the suppression of anything deemed foreign, non-white, immoral, or communist—whereby communist was rarely anything more than a catch-all term for anything nationally, racially or morally impure. Despite the legal restrictions that officially separated the CIA from domestic policing, the history of drug law enforcement as recounted by those engaged is incontrovertible testimony that these restrictions were conceptually problematic and practically a dead letter. At every turn, official action by drug enforcement officers was either compromised by cooperation with the CIA or disrupted by CIA intervention to preserve its “national security” interests both in the drug trade itself and the underground channels through which intelligence, weapons, illicit funds, etc. could flow. DEA agents, like their predecessors in the FBN, did not last long if they insisted on sincere performance of what they thought were their statutory law enforcement duties.