Valentine’s Day

From page 405 of The Strength of the Pack: The Personalities, Politics and Espionage Intrigues that Shaped the DEA, by Douglas Valentine (Walterville, OR: Trine Day LLC, 2009):

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“Under George H.W. Bush,* the [Drug Enforcement Agency] became an adjunct of the counter-terror network that defines American foreign policy along ideological lines: investigating [Chile’s deceased president Salvador] Allende’s** associates in Chile was required, as was ‘looking away’ so [the next Chilean president Augusto] Pinochet’s associates could deal drugs with impunity.

”Today the DEA is a top-heavy bureaucracy ruled by ideologues unsullied by street work, strained through a sieve of security clearances, oblivious to their mandate and beholden only to political power brokers. They are successful because they can lie, cheat and steal from the public and Congress. This pack of PR experts preaches the party line, but is unable to manage the metaphorical ‘war on drugs.’ Thus the war goes on and on, and the same problems loom larger than ever.

”At the core of America’s drug problem is the ingrained corruption in our system: the lying, cheating and stealing epitomized by the Iran-Contra affair. The drug aspect of this corruption scandal erupted in 1996, when reporter Gary Webb published a series of articles in the San Jose Mercury [News] about CIA-supported Contra drug traffickers in Los Angeles. The ‘Dark Alliance’ exposé forced CIA Director John Deutsch to crisscross the country trying to convince the African-American community that the CIA did not cause the crack cocaine epidemic. He failed, but the mainstream media pilloried Webb and his supporters for unveiling the central role the Establishment plays in perpetuating the phony war on drugs. Establishment is defined as that ‘exclusive group of powerful people who rule a government or society by means of private agreements and decisions.’”

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The above is from the epilogue of Douglas Valentine’s authoritative 2009 book on the Drug Enforcement Agency—not to be confused with his authoritative The Strength of the Wolf: The Secret History of America’s War on Drugs (Verso, 2004).

A Massachusetts-based journalist, poet, novelist and private investigator, Valentine has had published eight or ten books, most of them overlooked by newspapers and magazines that carry book reviews.

His nonfiction ones are encyclopedic in depth, relying on interviews with key individuals involved as well as on other extensive research. They are generally highly readable. The parts that are less so are that way because he wants to be sure that the views of sources who are obscure to even people knowledgeable about his topics get their due attention, possibly because he knows they are not going to get it anywhere else.

This entry is a follow-up to yesterday’s, headed “Mission Creep,” the Pittsfield police chief’s term for his department’s being saddled with additional responsibilities piled on from time to time because of actions by the federal government. Dozens of examples from Valentine’s works alone could illustrate how this works for many police departments, and other departments of local and state governments.

For other info on his books, see

— Mark Channing Miller

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* Bush was appointed director of the CIA in 1976 by President Gerald Ford and  became vice president of the United States in 1981 and president in 1989.

** Allende was Chile’s president from 1970 until 1973 when he died in a U.S.-backed military coup d’etat on Sept. 11, 1973, after which General Augusto Pinochet became president of the military junta and then president and dictator until March 11, 1990.





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