The editors were introduced by Bill Jones from the EIR Washington Bureau, who told the audience that the recent series in the San Jose Mercury News had led to a call for full congressional hearings by U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), which had been seconded by Clinton administration anti-drug official Gen. Barry McCaffrey. Jones said that the real story is more convoluted than alleged CIA involvement. Iran-Contra was not official CIA policy, but was run by semi-private networks out of the White House under former Vice President George Bush. "It is appropriate that EIR is raising this story," said Jones. "We are in the middle of a fight with these networks. Our associates were railroaded into prison by them. We need clarity in this matter, for the sake of justice." In fact, an entire chapter of the special report is devoted to how the same Bush networks lauched a vindictive miscarriage of justice to throw LaRouche and his associates in prison, and to silence the only international movement that stood in opposition to the Bush forces.
Jones introduced EIR counter-intelligence editor Jeffrey Steinberg, who told the audience he was going to emphasize what was not in the San Jose Mercury News series, and would address some of their errors in focus. There is a danger that the full scope of this matter will be suppressed, if the focus is not broadened--which is what happened with the Kerry Commission report, he said. "The characterization of the matter as CIA is a dangerous dead-end." He pointed to today's statements from former CIA operations officer Vince Cannistraro, who said that there is nothing in the records which will implicate either the head of the Nicaraguan Contras' cocaine pipeline into Los Angeles, Juan Norwin Meneses Cantarero, or Meneses sidekick, Oscar Danilo Blandón Reyes.
Steinberg said that by 1988 the CIA had already disclaimed before Congress, in closed-door testimony, any involvement. However, Steinberg rebutted, today anyone can go to the National Archives, review the record and reconstruct the chain of command of this national security apparatus, which had nothing to do with the CIA, but which was reporting directly to George Bush. He detailed the Executive Orders, which had created an interagency intelligence and security apparatus, specifically the Special Situation Group and the Crisis Pre-Planning Group. These government agencies, being set up under the authority of then Vice-President George Bush to oversee intelligence, terrorism, counterterrorism, narcotics interdiction, and secret operations, in turn deployed private organizations and individuals. He characterized this as a cold coup against the Reagan administration. "The Vice President's functions superseded the National Security Council."
This is the apparatus which directed the Contras, Steinberg continued. Utilizing a large chart to demonstrate the chain of command, he said, "There were continuous meetings between Bush, Oliver North, Donald Gregg, and Felix Rodriguez." Rodriguez ran the situation on the ground in Central America. There is court evidence that the key personnel had full knowledge of the drug trafficking, he said. Further graphics were shown detailing the landscape of the Contra operations in Central and South America, as well as supply and logistics lines running into the United States.
Steinberg claimed that there is a cloud hanging over the head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for the 1985 kidnapping and killing of DEA agent Enrique Camarena. The Honduran in jail for this crime was one of the two top figures in the Guadalajara, Mexico drug cartel, Matta Ballesteros. This same Ballesteros was on the White House payroll to supply aid to the Contras.
EIR law editor Edward Spannaus detailed for the audience a model indictment against George Bush and others for drug trafficking and conspiracy. He said that the press likes to debunk conspiracy theories, but people are sent to jail every day in this country for conspiracy. "We have simply taken evidence which is in the public record, and applied the legal standards under which people are prosecuted and convicted all the time." The indictment, he said, is based on evidence from court records, from the Kerry Commission, and from the report of Iran-Contra special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh. He detailed the levels of the conspiracy and the evidence on the record, of the meetings which took place between the conspirators, noting that many of them are documented in Oliver North's notebooks. Spannaus added that he himself had been indicted based on material written in notebooks, and that insofar as North's notebooks have not yet been used by a prosecutor was incredible. He concluded by saying that 500,000 people are in jail on drug charges on far less evidence than what is contained in this indictment.
Asia desk EIR contributor Gail Billington was introduced next. She is also the wife of political prisoner Michael Billington, who is serving a 77-year sentence in a Virginia prison. She said that her husband and other associates of Lyndon LaRouche had been the targets of the vindictive wrath of George Bush for exposing the Contra drug-running conspiracy. She described the history of her husband's fund-raising efforts against the Kissinger-Bush drug policies and on behalf of the LaRouche approach, a military effort coupled with economic development. She described her husband's direct encounter with North and company when they subverted contributor Barbara Newington. Later evidence was discovered in a trial of LaRouche associates that North had been running operations against LaRouche. She described the exoneration campaign which has led to our present ability to call George Bush to account for these crimes. "According to George Bush, we should not be here today," she said.
Asked why Senator Kerry would have suppressed the evidence of drug trafficking, Spannaus replied that Kerry had not used everything he had, but he had done more than anyone else in government to expose the relationship of the Contras to drug-running, with his hearings and his report. Attempts to follow up evidence of drug trafficking in the report were sandbagged. Asked what had happened to the Bush apparatus after he became President in 1989, and after he left office, Steinberg described the much broader operations of the Bush secret government in drug and gun running in Afghanistan. He said that the test case of a true, military approach to stopping drugs was carried out in Guatemala in 1985, in consultation with LaRouche and his associates. He said if that approach had been followed, the military invasion of Panama wouldn't have occurred, nor the narco-insurgencies in Mexico and Colombia that we see today.
Foreword to the EIR Special Report: George Bush's 'Crack Force,' by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.