US Attacks on African American Men, From Tuskegee to Crack Cocaine

While most of world’s attention was on the Iranian revolution in 1979, there was also a revolution in the Central American nation of Nicaragua, that year, led by Sandinistas, which led to the overthrew of the last of the Somoza dynasty, the much hated dictator, Anastasio Somoza, who was a US puppet, kept in power by the US. To counter the revolution and overthrow the social democrat Sandinistas and return the US-backed dictatorship to power, On 4 January 1982, President Reagan signed the top secret National Security Decision Directive 17 (NSDD-17), giving the CIA the authority to recruit and support a mercenary death squad who came to be known as the Contras, short for la contrarrevolución (the counterrevolution) with $19 million in military aid, even though as it became clear later, the CIA had been involved in the counterrevolution from the beginning. With the help of the US, which was financing, training, arming, and advising the mercenary group, they were blowing up bridges, highways, ports, government buildings, power plants and massacring supporters of the revolution, especially in the countryside. In December 1982, the New York Times reported that the ‘covert activities have become the most ambitious paramilitary and political action operation mounted by the C.I.A. in nearly a decade…‘” In the fiscal year 1984, the U.S. Congress approved $24 million in Contra aid, despite the fact that the Sandinista government won the majority of the votes in a 1984 election, which was hailed as free and fair by international observers. However, after the revelation that the CIA had been directly involved in mining and blowing up Nicaragua’s ports, and since the contras failed to win the hoped-for popular support or military victories and since their human rights violations were becoming a liability for the US, despite pressure by the Reagan Administration, the US Congress cut the funding for the Contras in 1985.

But the funding of the Contras continued, covertly, nonetheless, which upon revelation, became known as the “Iran-Contra affair”, whereby the Reagan Administration was selling weapons to Iran, which itself was against US law, and funneling the proceeds to the Contras to circumvent the Congress. When overt support for a death squad becomes damaging to US credibility, overt becomes covert.

But this was not the only way they were raising money for the counterrevolution in Nicaragua. In 1984, in what was comparable only to the vile and notorious Tuskegee Experiment, the CIA organized and directed the trafficking of cocaine from Central America and its distribution in crack cocaine form, among African Americans in South Central Los Angeles. The profits from this drug trafficking was then sent back to the Contras.

This was investigated and reported in a series of articles titled “Dark Alliance” by investigative journalist Gary Webb in 1996 in San Jose Mercury News. The Reagan administration shielded inner-city drug dealers from prosecution to keep the CIA role in the drug trafficking a secret. In the aftermath of this revelation, which came to light due to the tenacious investigation by Webb, the CIA, with the help of major newspapers, including Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times, began a campaign of character assassination against him, and tried to discredit both him and his findings. As a result, San Jose Mercury backed away from the story, effectively ending Webb’s career. He was found dead in his apartment from two gunshot wounds in the head in 2004, which was announced suicide.

Since his death, major newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, have reversed their original pro-CIA position and defended Webb’s “Dark Alliance” series. Esquire wrote that a report from the CIA inspector general “subsequently confirmed the pillars of Webb’s findings.” LA Weekly also reported on May 30, 2013 in an article titled: “Ex-L.A. Times Writer Apologizes for ’Tawdry’ Attacks.”, that “Webb was vindicated by a 1998 CIA Inspector General report, which revealed that for more than a decade the agency had covered up a business relationship it had with Nicaraguan drug dealers like Blandón [the top drug dealer with ties to CIA – SS]”

in 2013, Nick Schou, an LA Weekly journalist, told the story of Gary Webb in a book titled “Kill the Messenger”, which has been made into a movie by that same title, currently in movie theaters in select cities.

This was the second attack on African American men in recent history, the first being the Tuskegee Experiment of 1932 to 1972, when the U.S. Public Health Service pretended to give them free Healthcare when in reality it was deliberately infecting them with syphilis to see how the disease progresses if left untreated.

The significance and egregiousness of helping to distribute crack cocaine among African Americans, which caused an epidemic among them, becomes clearer when you consider the fact that it was done precisely at a time when a “war on drugs” had been declared and which the Reagan Administration (whom Obama often speaks highly of) had escalated, putting in jail, for years, those who possessed or distributed it, while shielding those who trafficked it into the country from prosecution. Today, despite the government complicity in creating this epidemic, many still remain in jail, even for minor possession charges. The incarceration of many black men, some for long periods, can be considered the third government attack on them. And finally the fourth is the shooting and killing young black men by racist cops on a regular basis.


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