[Note: we have updated the introductions to this entire article to encopass the addition of the other two volumes of the “Kerry Report”. We would like to acknowledge our debt to the folks at memoryhole.org who originally produced these copies of these documents and published them on the Internet years ago. We are republishing them because for whatever reason their website no longer offers the docs. We retrieved them via the Internet Archive. – FoWL Chicago]
We are pleased to present to our readers copies of the first three volumes of the 1989 publication of the 1988 “U.S. Senate Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Communications […] of the Committee on Foreign Relations” – also known as the “Kerry Report” (because then-U.S. Senator John Kerry chaired the Committee).
The hearings the first volume is based on were held on May 27, July 15 and October 30, 1987; those for the second volume were held on February 8, 9, 10 and 11, 1988; those for the third volume were held on April 4, 5, 6 and 7, 1988.
In the words of of the Chairman of the hearings, Democratic Party U.S. Senator John Kerry, “[a]mong the issues which we want to address in these hearings is not only our own policy but the extent to which our Government ranks the drug problem in the overall scheme of a relationship with other countries. Do we on any occasion overlook a drug law enforcement problem that develops in our relationship with a foreign government in order to protect perceived national or international security or political concerns? If so, what are the political and national security objectives,
which take precedence over the responsibility to our citizens to stop the flow of drugs[?] […]
“Are we facing a situation where the economies of some countries are becoming reliant on revenues generated by narcotics trafficking? Are the actions of drug traffickers increasingly destabilizing the institutions of those countries which succumb to the temptation to permit traffickers to operate in them? Is drug money being used to support political parties, incumbent governments, or even revolutionary movements?”
The first volume of the hearings focuses on the Bahamas, where (again according to Kerry) “[t]he
Drug Enforcement Administration estimates that about 40 percent of the cocaine and much of the marijuana pouring into the United States comes through the Bahamas. The subcommittee will be seeking to determine how our Government has responded to the drug problem in the Bahamas over the past years, and we will attempt to construct a history of the trafficking through the Bahamas and how in reality we have responded to that problem.”
The first witness, who was apparently making quite a stir due to his appearance in the hearing room was described by Kerry thusly: “If I could make one final comment, it is not by my choice that a witness, nor by my ranking colleague’s choice that a witness appears before us hooded. We want these hearings to be open, and we want this policy to be examined openly. But the witness is under the Federal Witness Protection Program as of very recently. This committee feels a responsibility to adhere to the standards of that program, which require the diminished exposure of a witness in order to effectively relocate him. And so we are adhering to that policy, and that is why the witness appears hooded today. It is not to say there are not those in the world who know his identity. Obviously they do. Has he appeared publicly before? Yes, he has. But now he is in the program seeking a new identity and location, and it would be irresponsible of this committee to in any way permit people who have never seen him to see him in this context. That is why we are going along with it.”
And with that bizarre announcement, the circus began!
Sen. Mitch McConnell took the mic from Kerry and began to describe the strange tale of US drug interdiction efforts in the Bahamas being run by the combined efforts of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Pentagon:
“I share your judgment about the necessity to hood the witness. We are sorry that is necessary but we understand the reason why.
“A little over a month ago the Senate struggled with the question of whether the Government of the Bahamas was fully cooperating with the United States or taking adequate steps of its own to stop drug trafficking, production or drug-related money laundering. My view is shaped by the State Department’s International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, which summed up the situation, stating, “The Bahamas continues to be a major transit country for cocaine and marijuana shipments to the United States. In fact, in 1986 as coca production and cocaine demand increased, seizures of cocaine transmitting the Bahamas dropped from the 1985 level of
over 10,000 pounds to under 8,000 pounds. Seizures of marijuana dropped from 44.5 tons in 1985 to 5.6 tons in 1986.”
“This dramatic decline in interdiction of narcotics occurred as we mounted one of the most significant drug enforcement programs in our history, Operation Bahamas, Antigua, Turks, and Caicos, otherwise known as OpAd, pioneered the use of the Department of Defense helicopter assets in our drug war. Bahamian strike force personnel are stationed at Homestead Air Force Base and flown to suspected narcotics sites along with DEA and Customs officials. We have a radar balloon to track flights, and according to the State Department Bahamian liaison officers assigned to Coast Guard vessels offer, and I quote, ‘excellent cooperation’ in granting permission to board Bahamian vessels.
“Clearly the experts have developed a comprehensive program to fight this war on drugs. The question that comes to mind is, Why is it not working more successfully? We have dedicated millions of dollars, tons of equipment, and hundreds of personnel, yet the problem gets worse […] I think this committee needs to explore the central issue of whether corruption and the internal policies of the Bahamian Government undermine and defeat our drug enforcement program.
“The State Department assures me that the No.1 issue on our bilateral agenda with the Government of the Bahamas is drug enforcement. However, their narcotics report points out, and I quote again, ‘Widespread narcotics corruption still exists […] The government has been slow in effectively addressing […] narcotics-related corruption in general. This corruption threatens to undermine the cooperation we now enjoy as well as the very fabric of Bahamian society.’
“This sentiment was certainly echoed in a recent letter from Assistant Secretary Fox to members of this committee. While Mr. Fox points out that in 1986 laws were passed to increase sentences in the Bahamas for drug-related offenses, his next paragraph notes that of six prosecutions stemming from the Royal Commission report, none resulted in conviction.”
Hmmm. Very interesting. The more money the US Government spends on “drug interdiction efforts” in the Bahamas, the SMALLER are the seizures of drugs there… and instead of the increased expenditure resulting in MORE convictions, it results in NO convictions. And of course, we are not talking about a hostile nation here but of a government in the Bahamas, which is under the jurisdiction of Great Britain. How strange!
But then again maybe not. Knowing what we know today about the drug trade – how major US allies who, like many top “drug warriors” in the Mexican government have been awarded meritorious citations from the DEA for their heroic anti-drug work – only to be exposed later on as having been on the payroll of the drug cartels for years; and how major U.S. and international banks have been discovered to have laundered hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars annually for the major South American drug cartels; and how the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) actually sold guns to the drug cartels… maybe the Senate was looking through their investigatory microscopes from the wrong end.
This document, which is full of interesting leads that were never followed up by Sen. Kerry or anyone else – sheds a great deal of light on the nature of the relationship between the drug cartels, Wall St. bankers and the US Government – especially the secret branches of the US Government and the agencies tasked with fighting the phony “War on Drugs”.
Our copy of this document was obtained via the memoryhole.org website – via the Internet Archive. Although memoryhole’s website is still cited as a repository of these documants, when we checked it today it was offline “for maintenance”. We found the docs on the Wayback Machine and turned the .html version into this handy .pdf version for your downloading pleasure. You’re Welcome!
Volume Two of the “Kerry Report” deals with the drug trade in Panama during the reign of long-time U.S. backed strongman Manuel Noriega. Noriega later fell out of favor with his patrons in Washington and his nation; after a long, bizarre period of harassment and aural torture while holed up in the Vatican’s embassy in Panama City, Panama was once again invaded by US Marines and Noriega kidnapped and taken for a frame-up trial in Miami. He has been in prison ever since.
Having been a US puppet and CIA asset for decades as he worked his way up through the ranks of the Panamanian military, Noriega was uniquely positioned to spill the beans on US/CIA drug operations to back the Contras in Nicaragua, as those drug shipments passed through Panama on their way north and south. If the Senate subcommittee chaired by John Kerry had really wanted to get to the bottom of what had been going on with the US Government’s involvement with the drug trade in Panama, they would have called Manuel Noriega as a witness, but of course that would just not do. Instead, Noriega was kidnapped and hauled in front of a court in Miami and held incommunicado while Kerry ran his dog-and-pony show in Washington.
Noriega intended to put his deep knowledge of the US Government’s involvement in the South American drug trade to work for his defense at trial. The United States did not allow him to turn his prosecution into a whistle-blowing opportunity, however:
“At his trial, Noriega intended to defend himself by presenting his alleged crimes within the framework of his work for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The government objected to any disclosure of the purposes for which the United States had paid Noriega because this information was classified and its disclosure went against the interests of the United States. In pre-trial proceedings, the government offered to stipulate that Noriega had received approximately $220,000 from the United States Army and the Central Intelligence Agency. Noriega insisted that ‘the actual figure approached $10,000,000, and that he should be allowed to disclose the tasks he had performed for the United States’. The district court held that the ‘information about the content of the discrete operations in which Noriega had engaged in exchange for the alleged payments was irrelevant to his defense’. It ruled that the introduction of evidence about Noriega’s role in the CIA would ‘confuse the jury’.
“After the trial, Noriega appealed this exclusionary ruling by the judge to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. The Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the government, despite disagreeing with the lower court. It said: ‘Our review leads us to conclude that information regarding the purposes for which the United States previously paid Noriega potentially had some probative value … Thus, the district court may have overstated the case when it declared evidence of the purposes for which the United States allegedly paid Noriega wholly irrelevant to his defense’. However, the Court of Appeals refused to set aside the verdict because it felt that ‘the potential probative value of this material, however, was relatively marginal’.” [Source: Wikipedia, “Manuel Noriega” ]
Noriega was sentenced to 40 years in prison in 1992, which was later reduced to 30 years; upon completion of this sentence (he “only” served 17 years, being released early for “good behavior”) he was extradited to France (in violation of international law), prosecuted again and sentenced to an additional 7 year sentence. The new US puppet government of Panama, which was installed by the US during the invasion that overthrew Noriega’s regime petitioned France to have him transferred to Panama for additional prosecution; he remains imprisoned in Panama to this day.
Somehow, Noriega was able to produce an autobiography: “The Memoirs of Manuel Noriega – America’s Prisoner”. We have not read it but it should be a hell of an interesting book!
Volume Three of the Kerry Report covers a lot of ground: it is subtitled “The Cartel, Haiti and Central America”. It is this volume that covers the CIA’s cocaine-for-drugs operation that was created in order to bypass the US Congress’ ban on arms shipments from the United States to Nicaragua during the early years of the Sandinista government there. This is the volume most people will enjoy reading.
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