White Out: The CIA, Drugs and the Press

White Out: The CIA, Drugs and the Press

by Alexander Cockburn

Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair take the revelations of the links between the Central Intelligence Agency, the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Los Angeles crack market that journalist Gary Webb exposed in 1996 (revelations that are the basis of Webb's book Dark Alliance) and use them as a springboard for a tale of the U.S. government's involvement with the illegal drug trade that extends much further back than Webb's tale. The specific revelations are not, perhaps, entirely new; many know, for example, that even before there was a CIA, the WWII-era Office of Strategic Services enlisted the aid of gangster "Lucky" Luciano in arranging support among the Sicilian Mafia for the American invasion of Italy, or that the CIA was actively involved in the Southeast Asian opium trade during the Vietnam War. But Cockburn and St. Clair persuasively argue that the traditional explanation for such events"rogue elements"is deliberately misleading, and that the mainstream "liberal" press plays an active role in this obfuscation (noting, for example, that Webb's three biggest attackers were the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post). By providing an overarching narrative rather than treating these incidents as isolated, the authors present a damning indictment of the CIA—but one that fully admits that the agency was not acting on its own, but was merely fulfilling the mandates of the American government.